A harsh criticism of Sugar from Leigh Blackall can be found at My experience with OLPC in Tuvalu. I've extracted it in part below with some acknowledgments and rebuttals.
List of things wrong with OLPCs Operating System:
1. The connectivity metaphor on start up is inappropriate for people in areas where connectivity is a long way away. The OLPC is more useful to people in Tuvalu as a device for games, media and typing before it is for connecting to the Internet, so the connectivity interface should not be the main focus at start up.
Why is the community metaphor inappropriate? It is available regardless of Internet connectivity--95% of the schools in Peru are off the Internet, and yet the children and their teachers can use Sugar to collaborate within the community. It makes a very efficient use of whatever Internet resources are available.
2. That said, we were using wireless connectivity in the Government building, but the OLPCs holding that connection was flaky. We had no trouble keeping a connection to the network on the Windows machines, but the OLPCs kept dropping. Placing a Wireless modem in the room with us seemed to help the situation. Another problem relating to connectivity was the amount of time some of the OLPCs took to connect. Some didn't at all. All of them need clearer indication of progress in connecting.
Improved wireless stability remains a goal, but the situation is much improved from Sugar 0.71, which seems to be the version of Sugar being tested (See #4 below).
3. The pop up menu for the operating system is very frustrating and seems to be affected by processing. Sometimes it is slow to initiate and even slower to disappear. I think its better to use the key on the keyboard instead, and turn off the mouse over feature.
I will conject that this comment is in regard to the hover menus. They come up instantly from a right-mouse click. But this seemed not be discoverable in the first three hours of use. A keyboard shortcut may also be a good addition.
4. Need better preloaders for the software. When we clicked an icon the software takes a while to load. Sometimes the loader dialog that says "starting" would take too long to appear. The icon does appear in the pie chart indicating active applications, perhaps something in that graphic could more effectively illustrate it as loading.
The "pie chart" comment suggests that the evaluation was done on a very old version of Sugar--pre 0.82--which makes it somewhat irrelevant. Launch time is better, but we have a ways to go.
5. The browser must have tabbed browsing! If I missed where it was, then it is too hard to find. There was no right click option on any of the OLPC we were using, and I don't know if there is meant to be. If the tabbed browsing relies on a right click then we were thwarted. Also, I think the browser needs work on its layout and features. The address bar takes up too much room and for some unknown reason wants to display the page name instead of the URL. The URL is for more useful in terms of information, and having to click into the address bar just to check the URL is just silly. The scroll bars are too small, and especially noticeable when managing a website with a scrolling window inside it, like the edit view of a wiki. We didn't try any ajax, java or flash - but I hope they are good to go!
Tabs in the Browse Activity are still on the wish list. The full address is revealed if you click in the address bar--again, apparently not readily discoverable in the first 3 hours. Java and Flash are compatible with Sugar, but there may well be performance issues on the OLPC-XO.
6. I couldn't work out how to manage files. I could download PDFs ok, but it was a bit of a fumble to display them, and I have no idea how to save them. I tried plugging in a USB but as far as I could tell, no new icon appeared offering me access, and nowhere in the browser of the PDF display could I find how to save the file to the USB.
The Browse Activity offers to open the Journal (where downloaded files are stored), but perhaps not in the older builds. The USB shows up in the Journal, but perhaps it should show up in the Frame as well, as a notification when it is inserted?
7. I wonder about the touch pad. I am used to using them and use the one on this Asus all the time, but seeing as the OLPCs are so ready to think outside the square, lets rethink the touch pad. If you didn't have the touch pad, you could have so much more room for keys! Apart from supplying a small mouse (which is infinitely more easy to use) I wonder if the game controllers in the screen could substitute a mouse, as could smart use of the tab key. That little blue dial that IBM used in the middle of their keyboard had potential I thought.
We have more work to do on keyboard shortcuts, especially on non-OLPC hardware. As regards the OLPC-XO tablet, 'nough said.
8. I reckon the operating system and software should completely change, and I'd suggest something like what Asus has done. I can certainly appreciate the innovations that I've found so far, but the extreme difference between the OLPC and other OS is too great, and will affect the usefulness of the laptops... think of it like Vista.. you are causing stress and lock in by being so different. The OLPC is not the place to experiment if your primary objective is to offer people in poorer economies to access and exploit opportunities. Of course there is the new opportunity of servicing and administering the OLPCs themselves, but that's hardly sustainable and I hope it wasn't planned for!
Growing community and jobs around Sugar is an important part of the roadmap. But also providing a platform that enhances learning is our primary concern. We've not proved our case yet, but there is plenty of evidence that a vanilla XP-approach is not having a positive impact on learning and hence is truly not a wise investment--"unlimited potential", indeed.