Nicholas Negroponte on Sugar and One Laptop Per Child


This is a re-post of Nicholas Negroponte's email attachment to the Community News listserv

Yes, OLPC's commitment to Sugar has changed. It is now larger, not smaller. Contrary to inferences drawn by Walter's departure, the press and venerable sources such as OLPC News, we are scaling Sugar up, not down. Let me explain.

Sugar is a very good idea, less than perfectly executed. I attribute our weakness to unrealistic development goals and practices. Our mission has never changed. It has been to bring connected laptops for learning to children in the poorest and most remote locations of the world. Our mission has never been to advocate the perfect learning model or pure Open Source.

Nicholas Negroponte of OLPC

I believe the best educational tool is constructionism and the best software development method is Open Source. In some cases those are best achieved like the Trojan Horse, versus direct confrontation or isolating ourselves with perfection.

Remember the expression: perfection is the enemy of good. We need to reach the most children possible and leverage them as the agents of change. It makes no sense for us to search for the perfect learning model.

For this reason, Sugar needs a wider basis, to run on more Linux platforms and to run under Windows. We have been engaged in discussions with Microsoft for several months, to explore a dual boot version of the XO. Some of you have seen what Microsoft developed on their own for the XO. It works well and now needs Sugar on top of it (so to speak).

As a non-profit, humanitarian organization, OLPC has a unique position, from which it can change the world for children and learning. Laptop makers rushing into the low-end marketplace is a perfect example of success of one kind. Another will be what kids do outside school and with other kids around the world. A third is what we do.

We are not a business, but need to be more business-like: meet schedules, manage expectations and fulfill promises. To do that, we need to hire more developers, work more together and spend less time arguing. Because of public attention, anything we say will be quoted out of context. We can only speak with our actions and those are only one: a reliable and ubiquitous Sugar. That includes being more collaborative engineers ourselves and engaging the community better. Our limitations are not financial, but identifying the required human resources and resolve to do so.

What is in front of us is an opportunity for big change. Sugar is at the core of it. To pretend otherwise would be a joke. That said, Sugar needs to be disentangled. I keep using the omelet analogy, claiming it needs to be a fried egg, with distinct yoke and white, rather than having the UI, collaborative tools, power management and radios merge into one amorphous blob. Otherwise, it is impossible to debug and will be limited to the small, albeit growing, world of the XO hardware platform.

As we reach out to engage a wider community, some purism has to morph into pragmatism. To suggest that this forsakes Open Source or redirects our mission is absurd. Kids will be the agents of change and our job is to reach the most of them. That is not just selling laptops, but making Sugar as robust and widely available as possible.


This is a re-post of Nicholas Negroponte's email attachment to the Community News listserv

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According to an anonymous source Microsoft internal codename for the project of getting Sugar to run on Windows is "OGSODPC - One Green Screen Of Death Per Child".

I fully agree with exactly one part of Negroponte's statements: Sugar should be portable and agnostic. It should be possible to cleanly change or remove the NECESSARY and PROPER parts that are customized for the XO-1 so that the Classmate, EEE and others can use it.

Simply, I advocate the major parts of Sugar become a tool for educational Linux distributions and handed off to a community foundation.

Sugar on Windows? Eh. I'm worried MS will get bored with it, can't make money on it or will steal the best ideas and release a competing product. BUT options are nice and Sugar on Windows will look much better to ICT buyers in many countries than that weird, alien Linux OS. Warning: there may be sarcasm in the previous sentence.

I believe that Negroponte has a good point about the open source fanatics. Is often happened in the open source community that we are split instead of being united. It took almost 2 years for Richard Stallman to support the project and it did eventually happened but not before hurting the project.
I believe that we should continue to support OLPC and to push more work into Sugar.
I also believe that Sugar interface is poorly designed but i also believe that with some help from some good GUI designers things can be done nice.
However the OLPC project was under constant debate and obviously that caused a lot of hard time for everyone in the team. Is not easy to be constantly in the public eye when all you want to do is the best for everyone.

J. McNair,

I too agree that Sugar should be portable, should be the educational resource for any Linux distro, and hopefully dominate the educational 4PC market. OLPC Austria already put Sugar on the Classmate PC and Sugar on Eee is probably already done too.

Sugar on Windows is not an option to me. That's Sugar as an application, when its really designed as a UI to support applications.

To me that sounds good. I want Windows as the OS and Sugar as an optional(!) GUI. If somebody makes a windows kernel: great! Selection is always good, but OLPC just did pull it of in that area. Their shortcomings in creating a stable and usable OS hurt their goals.

Sugar-on-Windows is just gross mismanagement to my eyes. To take a project which is nearing completion and decide that the best way to "fix" it is to redo all that work against a different base OS? It's insanity. It's also fixing what's not broken: Linux is not the problem with the system.

Dear Nicholas,
Please make OLPC transparent... the current "no news" way of handling things is making everything worse. The things that ARE transparent haven't been revised. As a community it is difficult to jump on board when you have no idea where this is going.

Thanks for the update.

What was really hurting the Foundation was precisely the lack of a clear statement like this from their heads, a commitment to Sugar.

Windows with sugar on top might be a horrible idea, but we shall ot miss the point: OLPC wants sugar to be portable everywhere, in a classmate, in a eee pc, in a fedora kernel, in a ubuntu kernel. If MS also wants they can have sugar.

And that's somehing I support

Once again it looks like I'm the odd-man-out. I think that Mr. Negroponte's clarification are an indication of a bright future for OLPC. I'm more encouraged and optimistic about OLPC than I've been in the last 2 months or so.

Wayan, there are many application frameworks for Windows. They are not simply "applications" but application enablers and sit between the underlying OS and the end-user applications. There is no reason why Sugar on Windows couldn't be the same thing.

Windows on the XO is the Horrible Idea !
You guys are all thinking about the laptop but NOT THE CHILDREN !!!
It´s like teaching all the children to use Windows, so that when they grow up they have to pay to keep on using it !

It's like teaching them to solve a math problem using a propietary software which they will have to pay in the future if the want to solve the same problem

MS has been brilliant in making people dependant on its software.

Working with them to achieve selfsustaining educational systems and economy shows some serious detachment from reality...

OLPC = One License Per Child

Sugar on MS Windows is a good idea, because people running Windows (on traditional computers) will be able to see how it looks like. Tomeu replied to the cited e-mail: "Putting it [sugar] to run in Windows in a similar way shouldn't be too hard". Great! I don't think anybody really means to deploy XO with Windows+sugar.
I read the Negroponte's email twice, and I think that the message is: sugar is to be platform independent, XO will be shipped with MS Win, and the "agents of change" phrase means that it will be technically possible for kids to switch to Linux/sugar.

Two scenarios for Sugar on Windows:

Microsoft uses Windows to destroy Sugar

Windows gui users and first-time computer users discover Sugar is great and many of them eventually switch to Sugar on Linux.

I think the latter scenario is a lot more likely. Remember, most people don't even clearly understand what an os is, but they like Windows as their gui and that is how Microsoft sells it. For Windows users and new users to use an alternative gui on Windows would be a great defeat for Microsoft.

If Sugar is to be platform independent, and XO's will be shipped with MS Win, then I am no longer interested in putting so much time and effort into following OLPC specifically.

I'll consider the XO one of many 4PC options, akin to the Classmate and Asus, each with their own advantages. I'll think of Sugar on Linux as a true education option for any of them. And I'll likely donate OLPC News to the Sugar group, to help them organize the developer community.

My countless hours and too many hopes to count were for the OLPC education project, not the OLPC laptop project.

I fail to see what would microsoft windows really offer to this project at all. Microsoft is just another greedy enterprise, which has the sole ambition of maximizing its profits.

I am guessing that my opinion is meaningless to the OLPC people but I will still give it: If Windows is on OLPC, not only will I not support is technically or politically for deployment in my own country, but I will actively speak out against it. OLPC had flaws, but they were workable... MS Windows on XO is not workable.

Agreed with Wayan there, although I'm a newcomer.

EVERYTHING about this computer seems to be built with the end user's experience in mind -- how a child will interface with the XO as a tool and _construct_ knowledge.

That's hardware driven, software driven, philosophicaly and pedagodgicaly driven.

Without a given piece of the puzzle the project just seems like any other product out there -- interesting, but not revolutionary.

Artur Pemberton, i have to join your opinion. If Windows will be supported from factory on OLPC i will have to actively speak out against it. I also should mention that i've spend a great deal of time and money to make OLPC known in my home country.

Windows isn't suited to running Sugar on top of it. It could run as an application, maybe some sort of bizarre program launcher. What would it launch? Notepad? There isn't a Windows version of Squeak.

For those interested in how Windows works its worth reading on Wikipedia. I personally cant see how Sugar could run in that sort of environment. Its not the best operating system in the World. Just the most common.

Sugar was designed specifically for a Linux OS. Thats where it should stay.

Well after some searching I did in fact find the Windows version of Squeak.

You've used open-source community to sell more Windows.

I've been big fan of the project, but now I'd rather support Intel's Classmate. They're doing the same thing, but at least they aren't such hypocrites and liars.

I don’t want to be too negative, but the themes I have been reading in these forums and recent responses here make me almost compelled to write this. It seems clear that a large number of users on this site are either educational perfectionists or technical geeks with little understanding of how the real world works or how to manage people or lead any significant effort, group, team, or project in any meaningful way.

At the first signs that your view of perfection will not occur, you bleed to death and go away. I guess that is to be expected that you will take your toys elsewhere and play by yourselves.

The reality is that Sugar, while fascinating in some respects, is poorly implemented at best and needs massive help that a handful of tinkerers on the side are not going to resolve soon. The only real negative to MS with a sugar app/UI is the cost impacts. It is one of several potential options. The goals of OLPC are education. Not software, not hardware – both of those are only tools of which many are available.

Anyway, after some thought about it, I highly doubt too much truly beneficial learning will be allowed in a number of the countries this is deployed to anyway. Kids will get the government approved ebooks on history or concepts of gov’t, rules and law and on and on, which they will share among themselves since those governments will not allow open access to an unfiltered internet anyway, etc… So more might know what stars they are looking at or be better at math or etc…, which is a start, but I highly doubt these 3rd world countries will suddenly become developed. Why? What 3rd world countries need most is democracy, free trade, personal & property rights, etc…

You can all hate MS as much as you want, and I personally curse Bill at least once a week using office, but the fact that 95% of the 1st world uses it shows quite well that the software works quite fine (gee, if it didn’t, the US & Europe, etc…should be 3rd world countries by now from using MS? Get real).

Putting pragmatism into the equation will make things much more efficient for OLPC, and might actually get more than a handful of these into the world. 500K is not many when literally a billion are theoretically needed. How many posting here have any clue what it really takes to develop, test, build, distribute and support a billion devices?

Basically I think a lot of folks on these forums need to grow up and stop whining. Perfection is a word in the dictionary, and in my experiences that is the only place you will ever find it. It does not exist in the real world. So, find a way to work as part of the solutions that emerge from the TEAM instead of being so stuck on your personal ideas of perfection that you bleed to death at the first sign that your ideas are not working out for the overall project. Make sure that sugar UI & apps turn out GREAT for education instead of the MS-way of being ‘good enough’, because you will wait forever by attempting any thoughts of perfection.

So Negroponte is now suggesting that children should be given an operating system (Windows XP) that is functionally obsolete, by its manufacturers own insistence? If the limiting issue is the lack of a stable interface, then dump Sugar and use a stripped down Gnome or KDE. If the limiting issue is a bureaucratic insistence on running Windows, then I ask again, why is Sugar even an issue?

Forgive me for being blunt, but the real closed mind idealism that appears to be holding this project back has nothing to do with whether the base OS is open source or not. It appears to be this bizarre focus on Sugar as the only possible interface. Dump Sugar, and the stabilizing and optimizing work on this machine could be done in months rather than years. Anyone with any real world experience in building software knows that anything with significantly complexity takes time to get right. Put Sugar on the back burner and do what it takes to get these machines into the hands of kids.

Indecency is the word to qualify Microsoft's insistence to have Windows on XO. They'll get bitter sugar.

Some of the arguments flying around just don't make logical sense without some serious money. Maybe like making anyone look good with enough alcohol???

For starter, I can't imagine a really poor child/family turning around and saying this isn't a standard looking desktop, I just don't think I can work with this.

Heck in Africa they barely have clean running water and we are worried about starting over because of an interface that isn't good enough so you are going to change the base operating system and keep the interface?

I like linux more than windows, so this makes even less sense. Ok fine, put windows on there, its your project to bring an inexpensive laptop to every child; Do with it as you please. Where I'm a bit lost is the cost and hardware. Is microsoft subsidizing the project so the price stays the same or are you going to increase the price by 200%/300%? The base install of my XP took over 2 gigs of space and that's without office. Last I heard that machine doesn't even have that much space on it.

At what point is it worth just getting a cheap dell? You can have an amazingly cheap and slow laptop that doesn't do much for $300 or a new dell for $400-500 that will smoke the OLPC on a good day.

I got a funny feeling that what Negroponte means by putting Sugar on Windows has more to with the separation of the Activities from the Journal and Sugar Home than just a cleaner Sugar API base.

Does anybody think Microsoft is looking and willing to have a Windows OS hidden under the full Sugar UI? I don't think that is possible from Microsoft or there would have been SOME talk of Windows XP Embedded and not just Windows XP.

I really think Negroponte wants the current Sugar Activities and future activities to work on generic OS's without a fully Sugar-ized platform under them.

Something just does not 'feel' right about they way things were stated.

Will refunds be given to those who donated to the project based on its original goals (both stated and apparent)?

for those who would like to try Sugar on Windows, get the latest Ubuntu v8.04( release on 4/24/08 ) and install it onto Windows. Yes, you can now install Linux just like any other Windows application using the what's called WUBI. Once you install it, you can boot both Windows or Linux from the same Windows partition.

Once you have that completed, you use the Synaptic package manager to add the Universe repository for applications and then search for Sugar. Install sugar and sugar-activities and you can now log out, select a new Session-Type( bottom left of login screen ) and now login to Sugar.

I have no idea how tied to Linux Sugar really is but it is written in Python so that is already available on Windows and there's GTK+ which is also having a port to Windows. Still, it would be easier to install Linux in a large file on Windows and then add Sugar to that instead of waiting to see what is going to get moved to Windows. I really think that it is just gong to be the activities and none of collaboration stuff, none of the journal, and most unlikely none of the Sugar Home desktop.

There are virtual machine versions of Sugar/OLPC too but again, the installation of Ubuntu is really amazingly easy and now Windows users don't even have to repartition with WUBI in Ubuntu 8.04. Windows users will probably feel more comfortable in Kubuntu instead of the standard Ubuntu. KDE is the default for Kubuntu and it holds more recognized desktop features than Gnome based Ubuntu.

There's plenty of free and open source software running on Windows, so why not Sugar? The XO is a computer and Sugar is an educational platform. It could be installed as a Windows shell, and behave exactly as the original version on Linux. This way insecure people would feel better knowing that Windows is the OS behind Sugar, and after a while they might switch to Linux. If not, that's their problem; many people prefer to pay their Windows taxes or install unauthorized copies. Windows is an OS with a kernel and a GUI, an old desease that made Bill rich, a cultural icon, we can't get rid of it that easily. Running Windows on the XO is plain stupid, so what?


"What would it launch? Notepad? There isn't a Windows version of Squeak."

Well, I'm glad your found for yourself that, in fact, Squeak does run on Windows (and it has been like this since pretty much beginning). So does Scratch. And, of course, OpenOffice, Firefox, Abiword, Gnumeric, Gimp, Pidgin (Gaim), Audacity - there's hardly any well known Open-Source application that doesn't run on Windows. And if you accused any of the open-source developers involved in those projects of not being 'pure' they would laugh in your face and tell you to grow up...

Sugar, being Python and GTK based, would be easy to port to Windows - but it would have to be a cut down XP (maybe even embedded version) with, crucially, support for mesh networking. Would it be any better than under Linux. No. But it would let help the Education beaurocrats to justify their decision to go with the purchase of XOs. Have no doubt many would switch to Linux latter on...

Let the little green Trojan Horse roll on - kids will be the ultimated winners in the end...

@ Wayan
"If Sugar... MS... then I am no longer interested in putting so much time and effort into following OLPC specifically.
I'll consider the XO one of many 4PC options..."

Well, join the club!
Yesterday I sent an invitation to the Ink-Media people to keep an eye on the XO solar solutions I'm working with. The more the merrier, I say. Sadly, some of our play pals don't play nice, and that's a problem. I have learned a lot in this [OLPC News] community, especially a solid confirmation that there is not such a thing as one single right educational solution. And Sugar is frosting. Needs substance underneath, which I am glad to see is coming together.

I must be missing something. The purpose of OLPC is education for kids in the third world. Sugar is supposedly a specifically engineered user interface for such kids, to do that education task. But Nick says Sugar was not well engineered and had no quality architect.

So help me here. WHO WAS RUNNING THE BLASTED PROGRAM ? Yup - Nick.

Who was responsible for hardware and software coming together to a coherent usable whole which got the job done ? Yup - Nick.

Now I gave up on XO several months ago and switched to the 'fabulously' well provisioned and quick/stable eeePC, but the issue to me with the XO always seemed to be promising semi-good hardware (ignoring the keyboard issues which reportedly were early run problems) running not-ready-for-primetime Sugar and associated apps.

So what I'm missing here is 'how exactly is switching the os out going to fix the problems with Sugar' because I don't see it.

The issue of flash being missing is an unrelated lameness due to free software zealotry on the software side. Who could have worked a free-reuse deal for the XO specificaly with Adobe to get quality Flash permitted ? Yup - Nick. Who could have instructed the software folks to back off on the free software zealotry ? Yup - Nick.

He made sure there was no capslock key. He could have equally dictated quality fully-provisioned software. That's what a project leader is supposed to do.

Bottom line is we all know who hosed the project because he was asleep at the switch. Yup - Nick.

Switching to Windows will not change that past, nor fix the flaws that exist today. I bailed because the hardware was too slow, and the software way too alpha-quality in my opinion as distributed by the project. Running ubuntu on the XO made it suitably fast enough, just without all the pieces of the software *I* wanted for *my* task. The hardware appeared likely good enough.

I just about screamed when I heard there were only three people working Sugar. It's the key to the whole thing. The os should have been engineered to get out of the way so Sugar and the apps could do the education task that was 'supposed' to be the core project goal.

Bottom line, Nick was responsible for the lameness and incompleteness of the software. Until he starts acting like a leader who will work the details of 'the whole' (or finds somebody who will), the problem is not going to get fixed.

And that is why I predicted several months ago that OLPC is doomed and why I still think that's going to happen, which is a shame.

hear, hear, vince!

Bitfrost on XP is a bigger worry!

"You guys are all thinking about the laptop but NOT THE CHILDREN !!!"

I think this is the best remark in this whole article+comments.

Edward, Wayan, and Negroponte, we should not worry about Sugar on Windows XP.

We should worry about BITFROST on XP!!!
(I really hate exclamation marks)

Read the Bitfrost documentation think about XP and weep. Windows XP is fundamentally UNSAFE, and it cannot be secured. Really, it cannot!

It takes less than 20 minutes on the internet for a newly installed XP copy to be rooted. Less time than it takes to patch it.

Exposing children to XP is exposing them to everything bad on the internet: Viri, Addware, Backdoors, Spam, Zombiefication. Name it, and XP is the primary source. A 6 yo cannot secure a computer. Even experienced 20-40 yo security experts get it wrong too often. Bitfrost was the best attempt yet to keep the children safe.

How long do you think it will take before the first stolen private pictures and movies of small children and their families will leak onto the internet? If you can answer that, you might consider giving the parents that number and then XP as a choice.

XP on the XOs is a crime against the children.


Mr Negroponte is using open source "fundamentalism" as an excuse for this poorly managed project. He's blame shifting to dump responsibility onto another party. (As long as the excuse is reasonably acceptable, no one cares).

Is it not he, that is responsible for this mess that he has created?

As soon as they started shifting from their original goals, and began doing things with Microsoft, (not to mention hearing key people leaving this project), you know the project will be FUBAR.

What happened to having an open source educational platform for the developing world? Apparently, that's dead in 2008.

I guess 2008 is the year of changes:

When MS got its way in fast tracking OOXML...
ISO => International Organization for Standardization => I Sold Out

When Nicholas Negroponte starts blame shifting...
OLPC => One Laptop Per Child => One License Per Child

I wonder what's next?
USAF's F-22As will be using Windows?

OLPC needs to be sold in a slightly redesigned (perhaps fully black and white colors) as a commercial product in every supermarket and comuter store in the developped countries. OLPC needs to get some big famous brand like HP, Dell, AMD or someone else to put their brand on it and brand it as a commercial product based on the OLPC XO-1 reference design. Put a $50 or so OLPC tax on it for licencing the OLPC patents on the commercial product, that fund goes to lower the price of OLPC in developping countries. Provide also $50 donation coupons which people should be able to buy with the laptop, thus they know that 100% of that coupon will go to the OLPC non profit activities as an additional donation.

I know OLPC is not a commercial project in its core philosphy, it shouldn't become eigther, but it needs to allow big brands to take the exact hardware and software, customize them slightly, deactivate Bitfrost on commercial models, and also let people purchase the Windows XP licence for a special price if they want to use that on the commercial model.

Flash should work on Linux better, and OLPC can force Adobe to optimize and allow OLPC to include free Flash support on the Sugar Linux versions of the product.

Relax, boys. There is little need for the high drama.

Prof. Negroponte will NOT be selling XP on the XO in any quantities. His 3 stooge programmers couldn't deal with Sugar on Linux. They won't deal with Sugar on Windows. These are serious technical matters and these clowns have no idea what the task entails. If they did, they would have included basic printing in the basic features!!!!

Negroponte has "threatened" to involve Microsoft for more than 2 years (remember how he claimed the the SD slot was created for Microsoft?), without any progress so far.

Fact is, OLPC is dead and that's why all the rats are abandoning the ship. Prof. Negroponte, as has been the case with every project he has ever managed, killed his own child.

So, don't worry, there won't be any sales of XO's with (or without) XP on them. Anyone with a bit of common sense and objectvity can see that...

"His 3 stooge programmers couldn't deal with Sugar on Linux."

Anyone claiming the builders of Sugar, or the Linux adaptation to XO, are incompetent programmers is obviously a troll.


Winter wrote:

"Anyone claiming the builders of Sugar, or the Linux adaptation to XO, are incompetent programmers is obviously a troll."

In that case, make it two (2) trolls: The Nutty Professor and me. Negroponte has thus referred to his programers:

"Sugar 'grew amorphously' and 'didn't have a software architect who did it in a crisp way.'"

In all honesty, the Nutty Professor DOES have a point: Sugar is a mess and he considers that a dramatic change is needed to save his moribund project. So, yeah, make him a troll, too...


Here's the thing - The old-version-of-Fedora + X + Sugar layer makes for a REALLY REALLY LOUSY user experience. The decision to use JFFS2 (which uses gzip on filesystem blocks!) may also be contributing to the slowness. Red Hat really isn't an application programming company - they've got the core GCC and kernel devs on their payroll, but if you try to use RHEL, or any of the GUI tools that come with it, you'll realize what a steaming pile of slow badly-implemented Python it is. It looks pretty for screenshots, that's about it. And that's about the experience that using an XO-1 today gives.

I've held for a while that what they need to drive innovation is a competitive software base (the way Gnome/KDE compete, Firefox/Konqueror, FreeBSD/Linux, etc.) Perhaps the threat of having their ass handed to them by Windows will motivate the development team/community.

The XO-1 is a kickass little machine hardware-wise, and its software base is a millstone around its neck. It's the closest thing to a fully specified/documented PC we've had to date (of course there's been ZERO progress on the still-closed bits, see "marvell microkernel" on the olpc wiki).

The fact that the environment still sucks so bad is an example of what jwz said in his resignation letter from Mozilla when they hadn't been able to ship a decent browser: "Open source does work, but it is most definitely not a panacea. If there's a cautionary tale here, it is that you can't take a dying project, sprinkle it with the magic pixie dust of ``open source,'' and have everything magically work out. Software is hard. The issues aren't that simple."

ok, one more person who want to disagree with Windows on XP:

so opensource has worked for you, freely, for a real future for children

now we have been fuc*** by Micro$oft one more time, i suppose Nicholas has got very much money to be able to destroy THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PROJECT i had ever seen.

it was a project of hope, of freedom, it was a children dream! now it's just a stupid computer for stupid capitalists.

THANKS for destroying hopes !!!

goodbye, i want never more hear about OLPC!
I hope there will be a new project like OLPC but with real good people at its head !

I'm pretty sure that the "open source fanatics" are the most important contributor to the project in term of codes. So if OLPC is going to Microsoft most of them will stop to contribute and so the only contributor will be Microsoft. Instead of the precedent declaration that the SD port was all they need to have XP on XO. I personnally didn't see any with XP installed on it so they are two solutions:
- Microsoft can not arrive to have a XP on XO
- Microsoft is just destroying the project but do nothing technically to adapt XP for XO

One very good thing of the project was that the children could always open the file to read the code. XP is closed source so I don't see how they will have this possibility.

XP is old, expensive, insecure and heavy so that means XP has to be redesigned to adjust to it. That means that the price will be higher around 300$ or 400$? If yes why not buy an Asus EEpc? The warranty will be onee year not 30 days...

I don't think that a lot of "open source fanatic" who sponsored the project will apreciate a lot this change and they will feel that someone stole their money to give it to Microsoft and instead of freeing the children will have the opposite effect.

Microsoft is very good to destroy every good thing: OLPC, ISO etc. And someone still want to believe they are genuine people wanted to help poor children? I don't understand this. They are amazing in communication at least to achieve this effect.

I'm probably alone in saying this, but brining MS into OLPC is probably the best decission Negroponte ever made. To everyone who has been spouting oof about the ideals of open source, and oh no microsoft, look where that has got OLPC. The fact of the matter is that their laptop is sub-par, sugar is a mess, and the development organization doesn't really seem to be in a position to fix it. Something has to change.

I'm not convinced that Microsoft is in this to screw over OLPC. Obviously they want kids growing up with Windows, but I think that is secondary to their philanthropic intents. We only have to look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to see that, despite being closed-source capitalist, they do have a commitment to improving the world. Certainly, the BMGF has done more for the children in the third world then OLPC.

Microsoft also brings an incredible amount of experience and resources to the OLPC table. Where OLPC has three developers, Microsoft can afford to pay dozens, this translates directly into improved effeciency and more features. Finally, Microsoft has important pieces of educational software. Think about what a giant coupe it would be to brink Encarta to the OLPC. That would be real progress.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates told before that: "Cheap PC won't help the poor"

I'm unable to find a direct link to this declaration. It seems that big brother clean everything to hide this fact.

But two link who did a reference to this:,339028227,339286443,00.htm

But now it's very important to have an obsolete OS but a Microsoft one on this hardware! Gates is fighting the fact that emergent country and their children could use a better and most important free OS and so keep Microsoft out of this country in the futur. Here it's only money not education!

Don't confuse MS the business with Gates the philanthropist. A business runs on its own logic, particularly when the founder steps down. Microsoft's logic is: Windows on every desktop and laptop computer and no space for open source as an alternative.

They see it as a struggle for mindshare, which is why it doesn't matter to them that XP in whatever version is obsolete by their standards. Ship junk to the developing world in the hopes that it will displace possible competing open source software.

In the words of George Washington Plunkett (a corrupt New York politician of the early 19th century who boasted of his prowess), "(They) seen (their) opportunity, and took it!"

Negroponte's failing was in giving only lip service to the educational goals while acting as if only volume shipment counted.

But forget him - he's irrelevant now. What's important is that there are a good number of XOs out in the world and that many of them are in the hands of us geeks. Also, the Jepsens and Benders of the project are leaving the mother ship but are not abandoning the larger project - they'd be crazy to because there's too much opportunity there, and it's out of Nick's control.

Well after 4 years of who knows how much effort by how many well paid professionals and experts Microsoft delivered Vista. Nuff said.

Disappointing. I contributed 2 laptops in December. Wouldn't have bothered if I'd known about this Faustian deal. I think it is a mistake.


"Disappointing. I contributed 2 laptops in December. Wouldn't have bothered if I'd known about this Faustian deal. I think it is a mistake."

The 2 kids in Mongolia would be disappointed to hear that you regret you generosity that made them owning their XO possible...

I wish OLPC could have somehow 'connected' people like yourself and the kids who directly benefited - I'm sure it would make you realize how of little importance, no matter what various 'reporters' and bloggers would like us to believe, the current 'issues' are...

I agree with him I regret to have participate to this project and gave money not for the kids but because this project will be use by Microsoft and Gates to pretend to be good guy.

This project has been made possible only because of the opensource movement and Negroponte's declaration are a shame! He discredit most of the early participant and support!

It is really really sad how open source people is again creating lousy products and insulting everyone around to justify themselves.

If everything you say is for real: that windows sucks, that it is "functionally worse" than linux, not secure at all, not as easy as Ubuntu, and it's free!!! How can you justify to yourself that almost nobody is installing it for daily use?

The idea Microsoft is blocking everyone to install is just laughable, as you can download freely from the internet. In Spain there are some magazines that distrubute a DVD every month with some linux distro and detailed instructions. The two most influential papers (El País and El Mundo) are giving a lot of biased space to good linux news. They are not even giving any space to the fact that OLPC have decided to work with Microsoft even if they took this topic as big news all of the previous times, for example.

So users have a lot of linux news, can get it almost free from a magazine, linux is much better, more reliable, more secure, bla bla bla... and market share is under 1% after 10 years of the same sad story?

Friends, this open source project you work for is just a dismal failure. You convinced almost none.


Actually Linux adoption is closer to 3.9% than 1%.

Thomas wrote:

"Actually Linux adoption is closer to 3.9% than 1%."

I don't think so, Thomas. Here are several sources, with most of them reporting global stats for Linux at under 1%.

Regardless of the actual number, Juan's basic question is very interesting: how come nobody wants this free, secure, great OS?

It's an eerily similar question to the one aplying to the XO: how come virtually nobody wants to buy this supposedly great product?

The answer is very simple, and strikes at the heart of what is wrong with the open source movement: regualr folks prefer products they can use without much effort. It's called "usability" and for-profit companies invest a lot of money and time always finding ways to make their products more "user-friendly". Open source projects are the opposite: they concentrate on pleasing the "experts", with the result that the products are usually good, but of no interest to the general population. Unfortunately, rather than recognizing this fundamental error, most open source advocates choose to put the blame for their lack of vision on Microsoft, the USA goverment, Hitler or whatever fancies their imagination.

Let's take the XO as an example: NOBODY in a for-profit company like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, IBM, ect., would ever let a new computer ship without the capability to install a printer and print from within applications out-of-the-box. Unbelievably, this was never van issue for the OLPC people and their thousands of techie followers. To this day, they come up with all sort of silly arguments to justify this terrible mistake.

One more example: installing applications on the XO often requires making use of the command line. well...99% of people out there have no idea what a "command line" is. How clueless can a team be?

It took Prof. Negroponte 3 years and a near-complete lack of interest on the public's part to realize that there is something seriously wrong with his product. Now, facing death, he desperately brings Microsoft and Windows into the picture to try to "sweeten" the offer. That's not the way things work, though...

"I don't think so, Thomas. Here are several sources, with most of them reporting global stats for Linux at under 1%."

Irvin, I think it must be even much less.

With almost 1%, someone would have taken your flamebait by now. So they must be negligible. All the noise is made because each and every Linux users blog and write on the internet.



" come virtually nobody wants to buy this supposedly great product?

The answer is very simple, and strikes at the heart of what is wrong with the open source movement: regualr folks prefer products they can use without much effort. It's called "usability" and for-profit companies invest a lot of money and time always finding ways to make their products more "user-friendly"."

It seems to me that open source developers have heard of that "usability" thing, just two examples here:

And where did you get the fact that for-profit companies don't use open source development method? Just a one example, search here for 'Who is sponsoring the work'.

Personally I think that nobody wants this great OS is because people aren't ready to risk their existing pre-installed OS since switching an OS is a non-trivial risky thing which takes time, however good the new OS might be. And people are often content if something works just enough even tho something else might be more productive in the long run.

"NOBODY in a for-profit company like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, IBM, ect., would ever let a new computer ship without the capability to install a printer and print from within applications out-of-the-box."

Can you honestly argue that every single device that you have plugged into a computer shipped by the above companies has worked out-of-the-box? If you can you're an extremely lucky individual. I myself have had nightmares with getting devices to work with, for example, Windows 98, ME and even WinXP even tho it has good hardware support. And computer/OS distributor can't have perfect hardware support because printers have drivers which need to be specifically programmed for a certain OS so if a device company decides so, it can make drivers for its device only for one OS leaving the others without support (which might be added by someone else who is willing to do reverse-engineering).

"Open source projects are the opposite: they concentrate on pleasing the "experts", with the result that the products are usually good, but of no interest to the general population."

The GNOME project, the other one of the biggest desktop environments for Linux, focuses on simple interfaces and actually annoys power users since cutting down on choices makes for less features. For example I am a power user and dislike GNOME applications and I also think that most open source applications are nowadays made for non-power users. As an example here, Mozilla Firefox is an open source project and it seems to be quite good for newbies too.

"One more example: installing applications on the XO often requires making use of the command line. well...99% of people out there have no idea what a "command line" is. How clueless can a team be?"

I thought that 99% of people in the target areas also have no idea what a "graphical user interface" is. Command line is efficient, flexible, fast, consistent and lets user automate tasks easily so it might not be that horrible if people would learn it. But I agree that applications might be good to be installable with a GUI tool like synaptic.