Nicholas Negroponte on Windows XP and Sugar


Nicholas Negroponte's email attachment to the OLPC Sugar listserv

One Laptop per Child is announcing an agreement with Microsoft to make a dual boot, Linux/Windows, version of the XO laptop. In addition, our intention is to engage one or more third parties to port Sugar to run on Windows in order to reach a wider installed base of laptops.

Nicholas Negroponte of OLPC

In the meanwhile, OLPC remains fully committed to our goal: a completely free and open learning platform for the world's children. The mission statement of OLPC has not changed in three years (attached). Sugar is the first user interface specifically designed for children and teachers to learn and collaborate, and remains central to our strategy.

Broadening Sugar's reach to as many children as possible remains key to OLPC's mission. To enable the Sugar environment to reach as many children as possible, particularly in the poorest areas of the world, OLPC must be able to bid on educational technology contracts, some of which require that Microsoft Windows be able to run on our hardware.

The increased volumes will lower the XO-1's price, already lowest in the industry with capabilities no other laptop shares. OLPC is substantially increasing its engineering resources and all software development continues entirely on GNU/Linux We will continue to work to make Sugar on Linux the best possible platform for education and to invest in our expanding Linux deployments in Peru, Uruguay, Mexico and elsewhere.

No OLPC resources are going to porting Sugar to Microsoft Windows, although as a free software project, we encourage others to do so. The Sugar user interface is already available for Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu Linux distributions, greatly broadening Sugar's reach to the millions of existing Linux systems. We continue to solicit help from the free software community in these efforts.

Additionally, the Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu software environments run on the XO-1, adding support for tens of thousands of free software applications. Open Firmware V2, the free and open source BIOS, is now capable of running Linux, Microsoft Windows XP and other operating systems, and was developed by Firmworks with support from OLPC.

This will enable dual boot of OLPC XO laptops with Microsoft Windows XP in addition to the existing Fedora-based system and will become the standard BIOS/bootloader for all XO systems when completed. With this "free BIOS" the XO-1 continues to be the most open laptop hardware currently available.

For more information, see

Nicholas Negroponte's email attachment to the OLPC Sugar listserv

Related Entries


Here is OLPC Mission statement that was attached:

2008/5/16 Nicholas Negroponte : (word document attached)

Mission statement of OLPC

To eliminate poverty and create world peace by providing education to the poorest and most remote children on the planet by making them more active in their own learning, through collaborative and creative activities, connected to the Internet, with their own laptop, as a human right and cost free to them.

"...connected to the Internet, with their own laptop, as a human right and cost free to them."


This is very disappointing. Nick Neg has officially sold out, and now I've gone from an ardent supporter of the project to a cynic. All it seems that OLPC is good for now is as a Microsoft distribution network to the world's developing nations.

And to imagine that initially the OLPC rejected Apple's offer of a custom Mac OS X because it wasn't open.

For shame. At least Bender is keeping hope alive.

"And to imagine that initially the OLPC rejected Apple's offer of a custom Mac OS X because it wasn't open."

I, too, find that quite disturbing...especially when one considers the virus and spyware issues and resource drain historically associated with WinXP!

Microsoft hasn't allowed PC OEMs to sell or ship dual booting computers so has NN done what no other has done in over 20 years? I don't think he really has this skill or position in the market to pull it off so don't buy it. Those Windows XP based XO's will not find it easy to go to Linux and Sugar once out in the field. I hope those XO's do not, in any way, distract the OLPC personnel from improving what they already have. It's Microsoft's job to support them now it is their OS on so many machines. And it should be interesting to see just how Microsoft handles this. In the past, Microsoft required the PC OEMs to provide all of the support for Windows. Now, we are talking about a version of Windows almost 8 years old and which Microsoft has already stated as being soon to be discontinued and the OEM is OLPC. Should be interesting to say the least.

One good thing comes of this and that is although way too many kids and teachers will be wasting their time with dealing with the Windows XP desktop and user interface, the XO and OLPC will continue on. With this, Sugar and Sugar on the XO will continue to improve and will provide demonstrative proof the original design was sound. But we also must accept that Microsoft will continue to sign expensive loss-leader deals with the same governments the OLPC team is hoping will purchase Sugar based devices. This is how Microsoft has operated in the past and there is no reason to believe this has changed. It will make it very difficult for the OLPC project to not become simply another Windows OS based laptop OEM over time.

When all is said and done, more gets said than done.

Announcements. Counter-announcements. Announcements to clarify previous announcements. Positioning, posturing, and finger pointing. Hand-wringing, whining, tantrums, and proclamations of doom-n-gloom and nothing tangible has actually changed.

Nothing speaks louder and more clearly than actual results. Just produce results. THEN we'll have something of substance to respond to.

Negroponte's comments on the new bios sound very hopeful. If it supports dual booting not only of Windows and OLPC Fedora but other x86 based operating systems, then I think that would be a very good thing. Schools in developing countries will opt for the traditional XO, since it comes with and is built around educational activities instantly sharable over the mesh network. Microsoft, and indeed other Linux distributions, have nothing to compete with that. Meanwhile it opens the door not only to Microsoftphile countries like Egypt, but to generating revenue through the commercialization of the XO, and to programs like G1G1 where many people want the OS their most familiar with -- XP. And why shouldn't they have what they want if it doesn't jeopardize the educational mission?

What is worrisome, however, is that Microsoft already has their own bios which serves their interests better. Would Negroponte have the spine to say no to them if they wanted XOs shipped with that bios?

out of clarification: what's the relationship of sugarlabs and olpc? who will be developing sugar? is sugarlabs a fork?

uhh, where can I download the 'free and open' new bios/firmware, please?


"out of clarification: what's the relationship of sugarlabs and olpc? who will be developing sugar? is sugarlabs a fork?"

From a recent Walter Bender's post on devel list
( )

"There has been some mention of a new community initiative to carry on
the development of Sugar. A number of community members have set up in order to further extend Sugar. Sugar Labs will focus
on providing a software ecosystem that enhances learning on the XO
laptop as well as other laptops distributed by other companies, such
as the ASUS Eee PC. Consistent with the OLPC mission to provide
opportunities for learning (as just outlined by Nicholas in is posting
to this list), an independent Sugar Labs Foundation can deliver
learning software to other hardware vendors and, consequently, reach
more children.

We have every expectation of a positive, cooperative relationship with
OLPC and we expect to form additional relationships with other laptop

See for more details.


A very constructive and positive approach from Walter Bender in a, clearly, very difficult time for him - perhaps a good lesson for Ivan Krstić to learn from...