In a shift of strategy revealed in a Q & A from XO Camp, One Laptop Per Child will be dropping the Sugar User Interface in future XO laptop shipments for a version of Fedora or Windows XP. Sugar will only be one application of many. Let's hear Nicholas Negroponte explain the change in his answers to olpc community questions:
- In what way will OLPC support the community in this transition? Will OLPC keep improving and debugging the software of the already delivered XOs?
OLPC will move to a Linux desktop that will run Sugar as an application. Fedora 10, which shipped in November, is a major step in this direction. It's a standard Fedora distribution that will boot on the XO-1 and includes Sugar as one of the desktop options. OLPC is working with the Fedora Project and Sugar Labs to provide a more tightly-integrated and better-performing version of this solution in the Fedora 11 release.
- Will OLPC open other options for software platforms in addition to Sugar?
We announced the dual boot Windows in April; alternative Linux options exist already. Fedora 10 allows other desktop options, and Ubuntu and Debian distributions customized for the XO are already in wide usage.
Now Christoph doesn't see a real story there. He sees SugarLabs working hard on getting Sugar upstream into other distributions such as Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, etc, and onto new platforms with "Sugar on a Stick", so its shipment with XO laptops is not a make or break for its survival.
But I see OLPC's separation from Sugar, its willingness to ship with regular operating systems, instead of focusing on an educational interface, as the last straw breaking OLPC from its original constructionist mission. The One Laptop Per Child organization has truly changed.
When Nicholas Negroponte says OLPC's mission is to
"eliminate poverty through education, by providing the means for children to learn learning"
He's not talking about a clock-topping hot educational device as the means. He's not talking about constructionism as the goal. He's only talking about "providing one connected laptop to every school-age child," even if its running office automation software. His focus is on shipping as many XO's as possible, not on changing education.
His new vision for OLPC? The Dell of the developing world.