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Microsoft Hardware

Microsoft Looking to Run Windows on OLPC 392

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-thousand-dollar-laptop-program dept.
pete314 writes "Microsoft has been provided with a number of test models of Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop per Child computers and is trying to get Windows installed on them. The current design runs a custom version of Red Hat's Fedora Linux. Running Windows will take quite a bit of additional memory: the OLPC has 512Mb of Flash, where XP requires a minimum of 1.5Gb storage."
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Microsoft Looking to Run Windows on OLPC

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  • Open Spurce? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goldseries (932320) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:22AM (#17110854) Journal
    I thought the OLPC project had definativly decided to be open source so that no company would have control.
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:24AM (#17110874)
    What happened to "I should be free to run whatever I like on my devices"?
  • Just sick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZeroExistenZ (721849) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:37AM (#17110948)
    This is Microsoft wanting to get a grip of a future potential market, and locking them in. That's what this is all about; before you know it they get slapped with activating their laptops, DRM-enabled features and what not.

    I really hope the OLPC-project wont get seduced by the money Microsoft is willing to put into this, it wont pay off in the long run.

    It's clear Microsoft wants to do anything to stop alternatives from spreading; just imagine a future where these OLPCs have sprouted a whole new generation of Linux developers who now write code to feed themselves instead. But they don't know Windows, and Microsoft has an entire continent of PC users who they cannot sell licenses to, while they're writing their own applications building further on an alternative to Microsoft.
  • by arun_s (877518) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:39AM (#17110962) Homepage Journal
    What happens when thousands of these laptops are connected to the internet by little kids with no prior experience? What next, install AVG, Spybot, and the rest before distribution? Teach kids about spyware, bots and viruses before they even learn how to browse?
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:53AM (#17111032) Homepage
    As long as it has a programming language included, and a course on how to use it (Basic has lots of open courses available ... and I kinda don't think C++ would be very appropriate :-p)
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kuukai (865890) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:07AM (#17111094) Journal
    You don't understand Nicholas Negroponte, then. He's no particular friend of F/OSS, except as a mechanism for getting free labor for the OLPC project.
    It seems amazing to me that you could pick up a hammer, use it to do things that are damn near impossible with your hands, and formulate no opinion on the value of hammers in the process. It's a basic part of human learning. This must be why this project is taking so damned long...
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:07AM (#17111096)

    What happened to "I should be free to run whatever I like on my devices"?
    You are free to install whatever you like on your laptop once you got it.


    However, the article here talks about what is pre-installed. And for the pre-installed OS, price is a criterion (in order not to exceed the $100 target price), as is hardware capabilities (again, fitting more memory would make it too expensive).

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by toadlife (301863) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:11AM (#17111114) Journal

    "The author of the article (and slashdot) quote the disk space required for XP, but why wouldn't they use XP embedded on a device like this?"
    The biggest critics of Windows tend to be the least informed about it.
  • Noooo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robzon (981455) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:14AM (#17111128) Homepage
    I can't quite imagine how this would work. Windows is a much harder OS to maintain in the long run. All this virus, spyware and adware crap - those poor kids' lives are bad enough without it.
    Besides that, I don't trust MS's intentions. I bet they are now working on how to squeeze some money out of this in the future. This is not exactly what I've expected from OLPC.
  • Re:Just sick (Score:4, Insightful)

    by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:16AM (#17111138) Homepage
    Actually companies giving charitable donations to the third world for pure profit motive would be one of the best pieces of information I have heard in a long time. The day companies start giving away their products in the third world in anticipation of them becoming a real market is the begining of the end for poverty in those areas.

    That having been said I think there is a reasonable justification for the original commenters skepticism. I mean there are charitable donations companies make with buisness motives (good PR) which are all find and nice and then their are loss leaders which aren't always so pleasent. When your cell company gives you a free phone with your contract it's something you should look at with sucpiscion lest the total cost be far more in the long run.

    When redhat makes this donation we know it has only the first kind of profit motive as their ability to lock OLPC/users in is considerably limited by the GPL. I very much doubt MS is going to do anything evil to the people getting this laptop but the question is whether they will keep interest in the project or when their charitable motivations wane will OLPC start having to pay for windows. One also has to worry about future fights over enabling certain features and who doesn't qualify for the free OS.

    Don't get me wrong if MS decided to donate a whole bunch of MONEY to the project as well as providing a long term contract to provide free versions of windows I think they should take it. But merely donating a version of windows doesn't really count as charity (they get it for free) and has some potential drawbacks despite MS's non-evil intentions.

    Actually though I think you are totally wrong about them getting an income from coding. Just as african villages have started selling handcrafts through the internet if they get enough computers/internet don't be surprised to see people in the third world start doing IT related stuff. That's what makes the OLPC project so interesting. Frankly this seems the strongest argument for linux as I doubt visual studio will run on OLPC.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:19AM (#17111150) Journal
    Oh, what a glorious day it shall be when MS has to admit their OS it too bloated and slow to compete with Linux.


    You might be a tad disappointed then.

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of versions of Windows, including Windows Embedded and Windows CE, which run in a lot less RAM and reside on a lot less Flash. And even from the "normal" XP, there are a _lot_ of things which can be removed without the end user noticing much.

    Sure, at that point you can still do the retarded thing and go "ha ha, so the full install didn't fit and they had to strip it down", but may I point out that the average Linux distro is even bigger than the full XP? SuSE Linux for example (to use an example from everyone's favourite, Novell) comes on a DVD or more than half a dozen CDs. Compressed. So that wouldn't fit there either.

    As for slow, I don't know where you get your data from, but comparing my gaming XP box to my SuSE Linux 10.0 box, XP actually boots faster, and the GUI is quite a bit more responsive than X with either KDE or Gnome too.

    I think MicroSoft's best bet at success would be a heavily stripped down version of Windows CE.

    It might come as a surprise, but some of the devices running Windows CE actually have less RAM and ROM/Flash than an OLPC. So why would MS need to strip it down?

    So please, let's cut it down on the arrogant-fanboy-disconnected-from-reality act. MS does have a lot of faults, but being stupid isn't one of them. They _do_ employ some of the best programmers, and can (and do) throw ridiculous amounts of money at a problem, if they really want to. And both Windows and compilers are something they have two decades of experience with.

    They already know how to compile something for size instead of unrolling and inlining everything for performance. It's not like they have yet to discover "wow, there's this 'size' option in the compile options of MSVC."

    And they already have the experience with porting and stripping Windows to a variety of platforms. They actually used to have NT versions for pretty much everything including RISC and a few other architectures. The XBox 360 itself isn't an Intel machine either. And there even was a version of CE that ran on the Dreamcast.

    The only question is whether they want to, exactly what they want to do there, and how much effort do they want to put into a computer whose price would more than double if they actually sold a Windows OEM license with it.

    Then again, they already know how to play the fake-charity card by giving away a 50 cent CD and counting it as the price of a full Windows license generously donated. (In addition to some real charity too, it must be said.) So they could just give away a locked down version of Windows to some kids who otherwise couldn't afford a Windows computer anyway, thus ensuring that a whole generation in those countries grows on Windows and Windows Media Player formats. It's good marketting. _And_ write it off a some hundreds of millions of dollars in Windows licenses generously donated to the poor countries.

    On the whole, I wouldn't be surprised if the effort right now isn't getting Windows installed, but figuring out how best to lock it down and how much and what bait they can build into it.
  • Re:Just sick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by denominateur (194939) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:33AM (#17111230) Homepage
    Well, the redhat thing is slightly different. As linux is open and free there is no reason that the future market has to stick with a red hat product. They could just as well build their own distro...
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:33AM (#17111236) Homepage Journal
    Like a 'pharmaceutical' dealer or cigarette company they are trying any trick in the play book to extend their 'product'.
    First hit will be free.
    Back end for networking will be free at first.
    Then the small hits start.
    Upgrades. Support costs.
    Before you know it, low cost open source is turned into a revenue stream.
  • by Tx (96709) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:40AM (#17111286) Journal
    You're out of date, I'm afraid. As of the current version, windows Mobile 5, introduced I believe over a year ago, data storage is on non-volatile flash memory, no data is lost when the battery dies anymore.

    However I still use a Windows Mobile 2003 device, but I've never lost any data, you get plenty of warning about low battery, you have a backup battery, and you sync all your data with your PC anyway. So enough with the FUD, okay.
  • Re:Just sick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bug1 (96678) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:40AM (#17111296)
    "Bill Gates is possibly the most generous philanthropist on the planet."

    Steal the world riches and your despised, give 10% of it back and your a hero.
  • by morie (227571) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:41AM (#17111308) Homepage
    With Fedora on it and the OLPC's distributed throughout the world, someone will get the idea to release a virus/worm sooner or later for this.

    It may even be the beginning of Linux virus trouble taking off seriously.
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:42AM (#17111326)
    What happened to "I should be free to run whatever I like on my devices"?

    It never worked that way. Neither my old P600 or my C64 have enough RAM to run Vista. Nor CPU power for that matter.

    No computer comes with enough RAM or the correct CPU to run whatever OS one prefers. PPC Macs won't run Windows, PCs won't run z/OS, and so on. This machine is made specifically to have the lowest possible cost, and that is done by using the cheapest components available that will still run a useable OS and applications. You won't get a Vista capable machine for that price.
  • by namekuseijin (604504) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:56AM (#17111404)
    Strip it down. Throw Gnome or KDE and their memory-hungry associated daemons away and put a simple user interface upfront (FluxBox, XFCE), put in a good autonomous file-manager configured to proxy the right files to the right applications, make sure XMMS is fully loaded of plugins and is the only media player (light and lean) and give the kids some GIMP fun. Don't mind putting Apache, MySQL or PostgreSQL in there: kids are not likely to use them. If high-level scripting is really needed to run anything, just chose one out of perl/python/ruby, ok? Run as few services/daemons as possible. Save the memory for the inevitable resource hogs: Firefox (much lower) and OpenOffice (much higher)...

    It'll fly like as if running on a dual-core...
  • by value_added (719364) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @06:58AM (#17111414)
    Whatever I might think of the technical and design features of MS software it does get the job done not to mention it's extreme ubiquity means that knowing how to use windows is a more useful skill than knowing how to use some random other interface.

    So you're suggesting that the under-developed world should similarly spawn generations of clueless lusers who "know" the interface (to the degree any interface today is substantively different from another) and measure their knowledge in terms of how fast they can can click and point, or memorising what, by default, is listed on the menus?

    Hopefully more companies start taking a long term view of things and donating their products to the third world to prepare for when they become consumers.

    Indeed. So the goal of the potent learning tool [designed so that] the emerging world can leapfrog decades of development--immediately transforming the content and quality of their children's learning [laptop.org] is to enable them to become consumers? Dunno about you, but I tend to be optimistic when it comes to kids, and trust in the belief that, given the chance, they could grow up to become anything. My guess is that if you asked a randomly-selected child targetted by this program what they want to be when they grow up, they might say something like astronaut, or scientist. Aspiring to become an office drone, or a consumer, happens only at a later age, when you've forgotten your own potential or settled for something less.

    Sorry to sound so critical, but your argument has taken Teach a Man to Fish, and reduced it to Teach a Man to Recognise a Fish, and then reduced even further to Teach a Man How to Buy a Fish with his Credit Card. Computers are an increasingly large part of our daily lives. Maybe we should be encouraging people to actually learn something about them and the world they're creating around us, to say nothing of what else is freely available? Or at least give them the opportunity.

    As for the article, I'm not surprised, but that doesn't mean I'm any less disturbed by a monopoly with a living history of crushing anything and everything that threatens its bottom line becoming involved with a project that offers freedom and knowledge. Then, again, that monopoly is chaired by a philanthropist, so now worries, right?
  • by Gheesh (191858) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:11AM (#17111468) Homepage Journal

    Sure, at that point you can still do the retarded thing and go "ha ha, so the full install didn't fit and they had to strip it down", but may I point out that the average Linux distro is even bigger than the full XP? SuSE Linux for example (to use an example from everyone's favourite, Novell) comes on a DVD or more than half a dozen CDs. Compressed. So that wouldn't fit there either.

    May I point out that the average Linux distro you mention comes with one or more of each of these: word processor, presentation manager, spreadsheet, graphics manipulation software, HTTP and FTP server, development tools, CD&DVD burning software, IRC client, P2P,... Please tell me where can you find a Windows XP DVD that includes all of these on the base install and for the same price, because the OS on its own doesn't have much use for me.

  • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:22AM (#17111514) Homepage
    Windows XPe, as the wikipedia entry at which you point [wikipedia.org] says, is a componentized version of Windows. By striping out components, you can reduce it to the bare minimum - just the strict minimum needed to run Win 32 API with the specific drivers needed for such hardware.
    And that's where the problem is : Once you've crammed Windows XP inside 32MB of flash, what do you do ?

    According to the entry, Win XPe is mostly used for embed device. The kind of device on which you run one single function-specific application, and Win XPe is only here to provide kernel functionnality.
    You can use it in ATMs in which case WinXPe is only here to provide a kernel, a graphics driver, an input driver and a network stack. And all you run next to it is a single application that does all the ATM stuff. And nothing else.
    Robotics is another even better exemple. Sure it can be cramed into 32MB : because, all you need is a kernel to provide a communication stack and memory management. There's even no display and regular HID devices.

    Compared to the Linux world, that's akin to having a system with only a striped down Kernel (with only a couple of necessary drivers compiled in), busybox (to provide all the necessary tools with minimal foot-print) and a micro C-lib and nothing more. All of which you run along a few simplified server inside a router. It's something you could run on This kind of boards [acmesystems.it].

    *BUT* that's *NOT* what the OLPC needs. The OLPC needs to provide a full desktop environment. They a GUI. The need a desktop. They need application to browse the PC, they need graphical wizards to connect to the WiFi mesh. They need a browser, they need a mail clients, and mayber IRC and/or IM too. They need software to display ebooks. They need an office suite that covers most functionality that the kids need to write their own stuff. They need various developing environment (classical C/C++, scripts like Python or Perl, maybe web scripting like PHP) because, all OLPC was initially about was to encourage the kids to hack. Maybe also some multimedia apps.
    Not just a single application.

    Does this exist on WinXPe ? Yes because it's fully compatible with it's older brother, WinXP Pro. You have plenty of microsoft apps already available that could provide such functionality : Windows Desktop, Explorer, IE7, Outlook express, MSN, XForm viewer, Office, Visual Studio, .NET Framework, ASP.NET, IIS, Media Player.
    But can it all get crammed together inside the OLPC ? Hell no. You'll need a rather beefy setup with eleventeen gazillions of gigabytes just to install this madness. (And that's all functionnality most non-custom Linux distros offer out of the box for a foot-print of only a few gigs).

    What the OLPC needs isn't the Microsoft equivalent of an embed linux. What it needs is something similar to Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org] (or, I guess, what the current customized Red Hat is), id est : most desktop functionnality crammed inside a small space of only a few dozens of MB. *Not* GB.
    And thats something WinXPe fails to provide. It only provides the envrionment (kernel, etc.) not all the apps.

    If they want to cram WinXPe inside, the would have to put along specialized applications. Applications that already exists in the open-source world, do the needed task nicely, but are NOT made by Microsoft. I would be mostly like just replacing the kernel on the customized Linux distro with a Windows Kernel, and keeping the same apps. And admitting defeat, that they can't provide a fully microsoft alternative.

    The closest thing Microsoft could provide is a Windows CE-based solution (and Pocket- / -CE version of office, IE, etc...). And then again it won't be optimal for them because :
    - Win CE still lacks some functionality that is granted on Linux (hackability, programming and scripting tools in standard with a tiny memory foot print).
    -
  • Re:Just sick (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dave420 (699308) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:29AM (#17111534)
    Why not hold your judgement until you know what's actually going on? That way you won't look quite so childish. Saying it's "just sick" shows how emotionally bent out of shape you're able to get just over a mention of MS, regardless of knowing what they're actually doing. That's not objective. That helps no-one. What if MS was actually good for those kids? What if, and this is just an example (before you try to commit suicide over MS being hypothetically portrayed in positive light), they got more benefit out of using an OS they'd be likely to encounter in other parts of the world, in industry, etc.? Cynicism and knee-jerk reactions, like that which you so greatly displayed, could actually hurt their futures, if more folks thought like you. Being an unobjective fanboy helps no-one.
  • by db32 (862117) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:38AM (#17111580) Journal
    Thank you! Wish I had a mod point right now. That is one of the most irritating and clueless arguments I have ever heard, and I hear it frequently. "Look your linux install takes up WAY more space than my XP install" or "Your linux comes on a huge DVD or CD set". Well thats great son, but I also have every application I need installed, quite a few bells and whistles to tinker with when I'm bored, and a compiler (shock, gasp, you can actually compile real programs on a PC without magic software company magic machines) among other things. Oh yes the pain, oh dear lord a single huge DVD that carries my OS and all relevant apps that I may need in one place instead of a giant software folder of some couple dozen disks and serial numbers and registration cards and activation codes.

    My other favorite is the "see distro XYZ costs this much, you can buy an OEM windows for $X or an upgrade disk for $Y less dollars". After reading what is either a troll or MS fanboy response I'm surprised that one didn't get tossed out there too.
  • by The Master Control P (655590) <ejkeever.nerdshack@com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @07:43AM (#17111604)
    Just one thing I'd like to nitpick... You can't really compare an install of XP (full or minimal) to one of a Linux distro, because the distro isn't just an OS and it's basic support programs: Those 5 or 6 CDs contain *thousands* of programs that would let you build a box for almost any imaginable purpose (and you'd probably end up mortgaging your house to pay for all their commercial equivalents). If we want to compare stripped-down OSes, what's the bare minimum of a usable Linux box? A bootloader, kernel, /bin/sh, maybe 1MB of stuff from /bin. I've seen a kernel-mode video driver/GUI combo that fits in 60K somewhere.

    But still - excellent post. I'd agree that it's not as much about windows as it is about getting people addicted to MS's proprietary formats. Remember: A flaw in WMP's DRM resulted in a one of MS's fastest-ever patches, pushed out with emergency priority IIRC.
  • by blowdart (31458) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:02AM (#17111680) Homepage

    If Windows is installed on the OLPC laptops, then we'll have to also get antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-adware and perhaps a few system recovery apps. There will also have to be a Windows key on the keyboard, which in my view, may be a stopper right there.

    Why? If they're using XP Embedded or CE then the OS is held in ROM/NVRAM. It's fixed, it can't be over written, so the only system recovery app needed is a full reset. OK sure, spyware and viruses could install, but they would be running in user space from the Startup folder just like they could do under Linux. The only thing that is not making this a stopper for the current OLPC is that no-one has written any yet.

  • Re:Just sick (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:03AM (#17111682)
    I'm going to print this out and frame it.
    Make sure you correct the spelling, though. Otherwise, you look like an idiot as well.
  • I can put one together for you, windows xp install is only around 300M when all is stripped down (no extra languages, no "upgrade from windows 9x", etc) office 2003 is equally small, when the fat is trimmed, as for other bits and pieces, apache last time i looked wasn't huge, neither is ws-ftp server, nero, mirc (yeah, its so huge you just had to mention it), p2p (again, non issue so far as space on install media goes, then of course enough room for drivers, lots of drivers, drivers for EVERYTHING.

    All your comments go to show that you only ever look at a single OS. I build computers (piece of piss job, yeah i know, but i enjoy it) and windows (XP and the PE), linux and openBSD all play a part of the common install procedure.

    The world is big enough for more than one OS ^_^
  • by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:17AM (#17111752) Journal
    Why would I want to sync my data with my PC? My pocket PC didn't come with a backup battery, and no I don't have plenty of warning about a low battery (hint I don't spend every hour of every day looking at my pocket pc)

    If it took them that many years to sort out something as simple as not storing your data in volitile ram how long is it going to take them to sort out the rest of the mess? Does it remember your setting when the battery dies? My mobile phone has had that feature since, well ever. Can you change the extension of a document in the file explorer? Does IE work. Can you open reasonable sized text documents (try alice in wonderland from project goutenberg) in word? etc....

    what is this fud that you talk about?
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:21AM (#17111774) Homepage Journal
    I have a bunch of routers with Linux based small footprint OS's on them and by small I mean a coupla meg. My print server does too (I think) and my cable modem has an RTOS microkernel. So from the perspective of why would you plunk Windows on an OLPC, the real question is what benefit do you get by bootstrapping Windows to an OLPC in order to take advantage of the applications that you can't get otherwise? Seems to me, we ALREADY have solved the OLPC OS problem - the question now is how many interesting applications can we cram on it.
  • by vhogemann (797994) <victor&hogemann,com> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:25AM (#17111806) Homepage
    I can point other HUGE problem regarding Windows on OLPC:

    - Lack of OPEN developer tools

    If OLPC ships with Windows, any potential developer will be forced to use Microsoft tools... and it means being forced to Microsoft Windows and Visual Studio.

    IIRC Steve Jobs offered MacOSX to Negroponte, and he refused it unless Acqua and Coccoa could be made OpenSource. Because otherwise developers would be tied to MacOSX and XCode.

    Today OLPC runs Linux, true. But Sugar(OLPC interface and SDK) it's nothing more than GTK+Python, both free and avaliable on every major Desktop OS out there. It may be easier to kickstart the development on Linux, but nothing stops you from using Windows, MacOSX or *BSD to develop for it.

    OLPC is a community project, and it needs the community to be able to succeed. This means developers too, closed tools or tools that are tied to one specific platform limit who can contribute to the project with code.

    Just my $0.02
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orasio (188021) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @08:41AM (#17111912) Homepage

    Nor should he be.
     
    I'm a big fan of FOSS in general but concerns about free code, open standards and the like are first world luxuries that really aren't important compared to getting these people better lives. If I could take a whole african country out of poverty in return for shutting down the copyleft lliscenses all together I would do it despite how much it would suck for me.
     
     
    You don't sound very bright with that reasoning.
    Copyright issues do harm actual people.
    I live in Uruguay, and while now the economy is improving, we had a big recession, so we can't afford to waste money.

    Our government agencies use Microsoft software almost exclusively for their desktops, and a lot for development. They have great lock-in, and it's very difficult to even propose a change.
    The DGI (our version of the IRS) requires the use of a .NET app for bussiness taxes declaration. That means that bussinesses need to buy at least one windows license.

    Proprietary software has consequences down the line, it's not just a thing of abstract freedom. The freedom we could have with free software

    That is an added tax on the people themselves, and that's millions of dollars that leave the country, instead of being invested here.
    We are a third world country, although probably near the top of that heap. Proprietary software is one of the many anchors that keeps us down. If we could make all the software free, we could be spending licenses money in our own capable software people, and the rest, in social programs, that are still very lacking here.
  • Not a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @09:03AM (#17112014)
    For the purposes of this project, Open Source is as much a non-negotiable requirement as low power consumption. The intention is to produce a whole generation of computer-literate people. This requires that they have access to the internals, in order to learn to work with the hardware and software. Anything else would just be creating dependency -- and it would be wrong on many levels for the West to try to keep the Third World dependent.

    Of course this means that there will be a whole generation of programmers who will never have known of any development methodology besides Open Source. Isn't that a good thing? Closed Source is no more or less than electronic slavery. Its time -- if it ever had one -- has been and gone.
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BiggyP (466507) <philhNO@SPAMtheopencd.org> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @09:28AM (#17112180) Homepage Journal
    It's odd that MS have any interest in the laptops at all, having previously attacked the devices as laughable, underpowed, etc.
  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @09:58AM (#17112456) Journal
    And I'm not talking about some Redmond VP's income.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:00AM (#17112464) Homepage Journal
    To be fair, it only says that Microsoft want to "make [Windows] available" on the device, not pre-install it.

    Here's my theory: MS wants to create a version of Windows for these devices, which it can let out into the wild, where it will be relentlessly pirated. They hope that the first thing that people do with their shiny new OLPC is zap the Linux install and dump Windows XP Micro (or whatever) on there instead -- even if it's pirated. It may not make them any money immediately, but it might give them a future customer, or at least prevent someone from growing up as a Linux user.

    Or maybe, rather than relying on piracy, they could co-opt governments and teachers as a way of forcing Windows down onto students' computers. They'd "give" "free" copies of Windows (taking it as a charitable contribution no doubt) to schools, along with some sort of incentive package. Maybe a free 'real PC' for the teacher, running a full version of Windows. It would have educational software on it, but in order to be useful, all the students would need to be running the Windows OLPC version. So they can effectively leverage schools to use their power to eliminate Linux and replace it with Windows, even if Windows is less functional for the students themselves. All they have to do is make it a sweet enough looking deal for the government or administration, which they can easily do by making it look like a substantial "gift" on paper -- even though most of that dollar value will be in software. A "free" $99 copy of Windows has to be better than a $0 copy of Linux, right?

    I had more hopes for OLPC when Microsoft was just ignoring it. Microsoft's attentions are like the Eye of Sauron -- you really don't want it resting on you for any length of time, and when it does, it probably means something bad is going to happen.
  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:03AM (#17112486)
    Sure, at that point you can still do the retarded thing and go "ha ha, so the full install didn't fit and they had to strip it down", but may I point out that the average Linux distro is even bigger than the full XP? SuSE Linux for example (to use an example from everyone's favourite, Novell) comes on a DVD or more than half a dozen CDs. Compressed. So that wouldn't fit there either.

    Everyone's already pointed out that SuSE, the entirety of Debian, etc. are only that big because they toss in everything but the kitchen sink. A minimal Debian install takes all of about 10 megs. You can get a feature-rich Debian based distro to fit in about 50 megs [damnsmalllinux.org].

  • by bflong (107195) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:23AM (#17112680)
    The world is big enough for more than one OS ^_^

    Tell that to Microsoft
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JesseMcDonald (536341) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:38AM (#17112826) Homepage

    Yeah - It won't even run .NET apps compiled from Managed C++, only those compiled from C#. It also includes a compiler for C# but not for C++, and g++ won't target .NET bytecode.

    ** ERROR **: Method ':_WinMainCRTStartup ()' in assembly '/mnt/dongzhi/vis/AvatarClient_2006-08-30/Release/ BotClient_WF.exe' contains native code and mono can't run it. The assembly was probably created by Managed C++. [emphasis added]

    Apparently your current Managed C++ compiler didn't output .NET bytecode, either, judging from the error message. Did you really expect native code -- compiled specifically for a Windows(TM) environment -- to run under anything other than the MS .NET runtime? From the Mono Technical FAQ [mono-project.com]:

    Managed Extensions for C++ is least likely to operate under Mono. Mono does not support mixed mode assemblies (that is, assemblies containing both managed and unmanaged code, which Managed C++ can produce). You need a fully-managed assembly to run under Mono, and getting the Visual C++ .NET compiler to generate such an executable can be difficult. You need to use only the .NET-framework assemblies, not the C libraries (you can't use printf(3) for example.), and you need to use the linker options /nodefaultlib /entry:main mscoree.lib in addition to the /clr compiler flag. You can still use certain compiler intrinsic functions (such as memcpy(3)) and the STL.

  • by cloudkiller (877302) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:40AM (#17112858) Homepage Journal
    Isn't this what competition is about? I realize M$ does not always--alright never--compete fairly but if Linux will ever take a substantial chunk of M$'s customers away, it will need to do so on the back of innovation and openness. We can not just hope that M$ will stop playing dirty, it makes them billions of dollars and whenever that much money is thrown around who wouldn't round a few corners to make sure that the private chopper always has enough gas?
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot DOT kadin AT xoxy DOT net> on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @10:53AM (#17113024) Homepage Journal
    Isn't this what competition is about?... We can not just hope that M$ will stop playing dirty, it makes them billions of dollars and whenever that much money is thrown around who wouldn't round a few corners to make sure that the private chopper always has enough gas?
    In a word, no. Competition should be about various parties working against each other on a basically level playing field, using the actual advantages of their respective products and offerings. Once people start to "round a few corners" (or start tilting the table) it's not fair pool. Once someone starts playing dirty, they shouldn't be treated as a fair competitor anymore.
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:28AM (#17113426)
    Oh no! They will have Linux on their OLPC'

    You were being funny, but you're right. Microsoft cares about this for exactly one reason: giving kids Free Software is a threat.

  • by ThePhilips (752041) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @11:59AM (#17113874) Homepage Journal

    Even charging OLPC $1 for the license would hurt the budget ($1 * millions of laptops == no good). In short, there isn't really a "market" here other than trying to expose another generation to inferior software.

    Talk with any sales person and he'll tell why you are wrong.

    It's not a matter of license fee - $1 is just like drop in ocean. But. Even if license rounds at $0, you still have to have accounting for them. Accounting == bureaucracy. IOW, in otherwise completely technical company you suddenly need to have large amount of bureaucrats to handle the millions of licenses. And then handle all associated costs: license transfer on OS replacement, on hardware replacement, on upgrade/update, handling of returned units, etc. Also, add here more management to do nothing else but control all the bureaucracy. And then you realize even the license fee of $0 - it isn't completely gratis. The cost runs quickly high.

    GPL/BSD licenses scale easily - they have no accounting overhead. That's why BSD and Linux had took over embedded market long time ago. CE device fitted with FLOSS now is something absolutely normal, though seven years ago finding embedded/real-time OS w/o per-installation fee was next to impossible.

  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by orasio (188021) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @12:06PM (#17113976) Homepage

    What the hell does any of this have to do with Microsoft? Your government chose Windows. Then your government chose .Net. Whose fault is that?
     
    .Net is obviously not the right solution for this situation, even if you're dealing with Microsoft. The problem, as always, has nothing do to the business, but the incompetent bureaucrats who took your money at gun point and gave it to them.
    I am not bitching about Microsoft, and am not implying that they are the sole responsibles for the current situation.
    I was pointing out to the GP that free software is about money, and people lives, too.
  • Re:Open Spurce? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Tuesday December 05, 2006 @05:20PM (#17119312) Homepage
    ***I don't have a problem with Windows, I just don't see a lot of value for the money over what I can get on Linux for free.***

    This is another area in which Microsoft's MARKETING is amazing.

    They have convinced a large portion of the market that if you DON'T use Microsoft products (most namely, Windows) that you will have multiple problems...among many reasons, one of the most predominant being a large portion of the rest of the world using Windows and you NOT using Windows, espeically insofar as it relates to buisnesses that rely on contracts and clients, as opposed to individual people.

    Again, I don't agree with it, but damn...the smartest marketing people in the world work at Microsoft.

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