Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware Technology

OLPC Mass Production Begins 187

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the long-uphill-battles dept.
chris_mahan writes to tell us that mass production of the $100 laptop is finally being ramped up. "Hardware suppliers have been given the green light to ramp-up production of all of the components needed to build millions of the low-cost machines. Previously, the organization behind the scheme said that it required orders for 3m laptops to make production viable. The first machines should be ready to put into the hands of children in developing countries in October 2007. "There's still some software to write, but this is a big step for us," Walter Bender, head of software development at One Laptop per Child (OLPC), told the BBC News website."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

OLPC Mass Production Begins

Comments Filter:
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:03PM (#19959823)
    I want to support OLFM, One Laptop For Me.
    • by lixee (863589)

      I want to support OLFM, One Laptop For Me.
      Patience. The Asus EEE is due in a few weeks. It beats the pants out of this one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rcw-work (30090)

        Patience. The Asus EEE is due in a few weeks. It beats the pants out of this one.

        Except for two things (for me anyway): a display readable in direct sunlight, and extended battery life (the presenter at LinuxFest Northwest earlier this year claimed he left an XO running for 24 hours once while it was displaying the camera's output on the screen).

        • by renoX (11677)
          Sure but currently to have this nice display and nice low power hardware, you have to use a keyboard designed for children (small keys).
          Ok you can probably carry another keyboard with you, but that makes a not very portable laptop.

      • by Hatta (162192)
        Patience. The Asus EEE is due in a few weeks. It beats the pants out of this one.

        Is it as durable? I want to be able to kick it through the mud and still get a shell.
      • >>Patience. The Asus EEE is due in a few weeks. It beats the pants out of this one.

        Sure, taunt me with your vague hints and intimations. So I looked it up.

        http://www.engadget.com/2007/06/05/asus-new-eee-pc -701-joins-the-laptop-lite-fray-with-a-bang/ [engadget.com]

        Asus' new Eee PC 701 joins the laptop-lite fray with a bang
        Posted Jun 5th 2007 12:41PM by Paul Miller
        Filed under: Laptops

        Asus and Intel seem to be bridging the gap between the fairly humanitarian efforts of the OLPC project and their own Classmate PC efforts, and the recent rash of mini-laptop attempts such as Palm's Foleo and VIA's NanoBook. Specs and launch plans aren't entirely nailed down, but this new Eee PC line has quite a bit going for it, even as crowded as this market is getting. The 7-inch ultraportable is based on an unnamed Intel chipset, and runs regular Windows XP or Linux without a problem, but really shines in its "easy" mode that strips things down to a barebones OS mainly for internet browsing (sound familiar, Foleo?). Asus didn't even leave Palm alone with its Wii comparisons either, stating that the Eee name, which stands for "easy to learn, easy to play, easy to work," also conveniently conjures images of the Wii game console, which is known for being novice-friendly. The Eee line will kick things off with the Eee PC 701, which will sport 802.11b/g WiFi, Ethernet and a modem for connectivity, along with a webcam, 512MB of RAM and a 4, 8 or 16GB flash drive for speedy, reliable storage. The real kicker is that prices for the 2 pound laptop are supposed to start as low as $200, and the Intel / Asus duo won't be aiming this at massive governmental purchases, but instead will be offering it to consumers through traditional retail channels.

        That's the real kicker. My several year old Tungsten E, purchased as an end of model closeout after the E2's came out, was around $250 and I still had to buy an external keyboard, no built-in wireless supported.

        This is really killer. I hope they can meet

    • by Vintermann (400722) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @05:34AM (#19966967) Homepage
      ... the One Laptop To Rule them All
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:05PM (#19959851) Homepage Journal
    We'll shortly know how this massive social experiment works out. If it's even half as successful as they planned, Negroponte and folks deserve a Nobel.
    • We'll shortly know how this massive social experiment works out.

      Yes, I'm going to try to pick one up on eBay for cheap, too. Wonder how much they will end up fetching?

      • Why not buy them from the program its self? Or are they not offering the buy one for you and one for "them" yet?
        I want one as a WiFi monitor alone. It'd be perfect as it's already ruggedized and low power.
        -nB
    • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday July 23, 2007 @04:08PM (#19960819) Homepage Journal

      So in a year or so... We'll shortly know how this massive social experiment works out.
      In a year or so? What exactly do you expect to happen in a year or so? The end of starvation and civil wars in Africa?

      I think a more reasonable time frame is 10 or 15 years. I remember using BBSes in the mid 90s and dreaming about an internet connection and one of those funky email addresses with an '@' symbol in it. I would never, *never*, *NEVER* in a million years predicted technologies such as Wikipedia or Bittorrent. Nobody did -- not Bill Gates, not Negroponte -- not any of the Powerful Old Men in computers. It takes a generation of new kids who can think outside the box and have the free time and audacity to try something that everyone knows could never work. Even now very few wikipedia proponents would ever say that they thought it would be as successful as it is.

      If millions of kids spend their formative years with a completely hackable, programmable, peer-networked computer, we are going to see a complete revolution of computing technology. It doesn't matter that they have brown skin, speak no English, or live in a jungle hut. They will do amazing things with programs and computers that the last generation would never think of. If there are millions of OLPCs distributed, the internet will be totally different 20 years from now.
      • In a year or so we'll see if this gets scaled up, if the distributions systems get the laptops where they're intended to go, and whether kids are being taught successfully with them. By no means will we know a final answer.

        That, as you said, will take a decade or two.
        • by lawpoop (604919) on Monday July 23, 2007 @05:47PM (#19962113) Homepage Journal
          Well, my personal prediction is that it will be 'successful', but not in the way that the OLPC planners will want it to be. The OLPC project is designed to be some kind of textbook replacement for kids in poor villages going to school. That will be moderately successful in a few areas.

          My prediction is that most of these OLPCs will be 're-purposed' by adults and young, budding geeks in small villages. It's like when cell phones came into rural Africa. Mining companies saw it was too expensive to run phone lines all throughout the jungle, so they threw up cell towers. Villagers got a hold of second-hand cell phones, and low-and-behold, they started lining up buyers to buy their crops as they were harvesting them in the field, instead of dragging them all the way to market only to have them rot in the hot sun.

          So the success won't be village school children learning from them, but the amazing new programs and communication technologies that both adults and children use *for their own purposes*, instead of doing what we think they should be doing with them.

          One of the programming languages that is coming with the OLPC is Smalltalk. That means there will be a new generation of millions 3rd world LISP-like hackers spread all throughout the world. This will be their first computer language. Not c, not BASIC, not visual basic. This, I predict, will lead to amazing new programs.
          • One of the programming languages that is coming with the OLPC is Smalltalk. That means there will be a new generation of millions 3rd world LISP-like hackers spread all throughout the world.

            Since when was Smalltalk LISP-like? They're not even the same paradigm, for crying out loud (huge Common Lisp specification with tacked-on OO notwithstanding)!

    • ...and if it doesn't, simply chalk it up to the untold billions of dollars already flushed down the third world toilet.

      After all, it's not results that matter, but the perception that you are trying.
  • Blah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Most of these people would probably better off getting $100 which is like 5 years wages where they live.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by fr4nk (1077037)
      They seem to like the ability to browse porn [slashdot.org] too.
      • Re:Blah (Score:4, Funny)

        by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:26PM (#19960169)
        Heh, I was going to post that link, but you beat me to it.

        Personally, I suggest a new slogan:

        "OLPC, Bringing Internet Porn to horny third world pubescent boys!"

        They could include a complimentary subscription to playboy online and a safer sex care pack!

        In all seriousness, Come on. Did anyone REALLY think that these things would be used for only "educational" purposes? Hell, I'll bet good money that the majority of them hardly EVER end up used for education. Unless you consider learning new sexual techniques "education".
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Rude Turnip (49495)
          I think they'll be in for a surprise when they learn that women in other parts of the world aren't mutilated via clitorectomy. So, there's your educational benefit right there.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by markov_chain (202465)
          Heh, I was going to post that link, but you beat meat to it.

          There, fixed that for ya.
    • Not really (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WindBourne (631190) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:44PM (#19960417) Journal
      1. if they produce electronic text books on this, that it will be lower cost education than what is currently happening. IOW, the country will have more to spend on improving total education, on health factors, etc.
      2. This is a case of give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish. It is difficult to get an education in many countries. If this raises education levels, then it will raise the country as well.

      Considering that you are a brave AC, I am guessing that you already know this, and are just opposed to THIS project.
      • You really have stated the whole point of this project quite nicely.

        I'm guessing this is going to be high risk but considering how (IMHO) education is the root to solving so many problems I'd say it's worth the go. Seriously, can it get worst for them??
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by WindBourne (631190)
          Sadly, it will. The countries with the lowest education levels are those closest to the equator. And it will get MUCH worse if even a partial of the global warming models come true. As it is, darfur is a glimpse at what we are going to see (new comers wanders over owners lands that is currently suffering due to drought). The best (and probably only) way out of all this is via education. Funny thing, is that education helped to create EU, America, and Russia. Now, it is helping to lift China and India out of
    • Re:Blah (Score:4, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday July 23, 2007 @04:22PM (#19961025)

      Most of these people would probably better off getting $100 which is like 5 years wages where they live.


      In what is, IIRC, the largest launch country, Brazil, median income for black women (the worst off racial/gender mix) is $156/month. (source [reuters.com])

      Heck, even Rwanda (which is one of the poorest nations that may get it early, through Libya purchasing it for them) has an average per capita annual income of $206 (source [state.gov]), over an order of magnitude higher than you suggested for "most" OLPC recipients.

  • IIRC they were saying something about a "buy 3 get 1" thing a while back so anyone could get one. Are they still doing that?
  • FTA: "The XO currently costs $176 (£90) although the eventual aim is to sell the machines to governments for $100 (£50)."


    PS: have the queues started yet? with waiting lines being "in", for xbox, iphone and HarryPotter books lately..

  • kids in the states (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jshriverWVU (810740) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:11PM (#19959935)
    Will kids in the states also be eligible for these? Think WV, Kentucky, or any poor state in central US. Or is it limited to just 3rd world countries like Mexico, Africa, etc
    • by Xybre (527810) <fantm_mage@yahoo.com> on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:21PM (#19960097) Homepage
      Africa isn't a country. Oh wait, you went to American public schools? I feel your pain.
    • by locokamil (850008) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:24PM (#19960133) Homepage
      COMING AS I DO FROM A NATION OF DEPOSED MILLIONAIRE PRINCES AND BRUTAL MILITARY DICTATORS, I AM EMAILING YOU TO REQUESTING YOUR ASSISTANCE IN MOVING MONEY IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,000,000 (TM) AWAY FROM THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF THE NATION OF AFRICA TO AVOID [SOB STORY].

      IN RETURN FOR YOUR HELP, YOU WILL RECEIVE AN AMOUNT OF NO LESS THAN 120% (POSSIBLY MORE) OF THE TRANSFERRED AMOUNT. PLEASE REPLY AT THE SOONEST WITH NOTIFICATION OF YOUR ACCEPTANCE OF THIS DEAL, BANK ACCOUNT INFORMATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER.

      YOURS RESPECTFULLY,
      GENERIC AFRICA MILLIONAIRE PRINCE

      1 AFRICA ROAD
      AFRICA CITY, 12358
      NATION OF AFRICA
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mgabrys_sf (951552)
        Actually in the Sunday business section of the NYT they were on about how Africa has only 4% coverage as far as the internet.

        Oddly enough - and I'm quite serious - they mentioned the countries along the northern coasts, and south africa (the country - not the general region). Not one - NOT ONE WORD - about Nigeria.

        SSSoooooo please - someone - ANYONE - tell me. HOW are these (insert 500 mindblowingly creative and vulagar epithets here - and a few involving fetuses in microwave ovens just for good measure) Ni
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Well, Nigeria [wikipedia.org] has a population of about 140 million. If .01 % of the people in Nigeria have internet, then there's still 14,000 people with internet. 14,000 people can generate a lot of email. Even if it's just 100 individuals that are causing all the problems, then they could still generate a whole bunch of email. Plus, you can't just block all email from an entire country, Umaru Yar'Adua (President According to Wikipedia) would probably be pretty mad if he couldn't send out any email.
        • by lawpoop (604919)

          Cause I for one WANT TO KNOW. Why can't we just block the whole country? The whole goddamn country? Just shunt the whole IP prefix off the map? Tell the routers that it's a ping flood and dump the bozos?

          Do you really want to cut off a whole country because of some bad apples who are abusing the internet by attempting to commit fraud? What if *you* and the rest of your country were cut off from the rest of the world on the internet because the majority of spam originated from your country?

          • by denttford (579202)
            While I agree that there is no need to cut off Nigerian IP blocks, to claim that it is a "few bad apples" is disingenuous. According to this article [itnews.com.au], 419 represents the 3rd-5th largest industry in Nigeria.

            Additionally, if any country had spam as its 3rd-5th largest industrial sector, I would understand (though disagree with) suggestions of cutting it off from the internet.

            Of course, If a private company blocked Nigerian IPs in house, well, that is their prerogative, for all the good it would do.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by NachtVorst (310120)
          It seems a large amount of these 'Nigerian' email originates right here, in the suburbs of Amsterdam, from where it's probably sent through open relays worldwide, so it's not much use blocking Nigeria. Every Nigerian Internet cafe has 'No 419!' signs all over the place anyway.

          And please don't block us either ;) . We're trying to make at least a bit less easy for them here. Arrests [wikipedia.org] of scammers are quite common, though they are mostly caught by immigration officers and returned to Nigeria instead of being
        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          Cause I for one WANT TO KNOW. Why can't we just block the whole country? The whole goddamn country? Just shunt the whole IP prefix off the map? Tell the routers that it's a ping flood and dump the bozos?

          For every African 419 scam, I get dozens of stock, viagra and penis enlarger ads from American spammers.

    • Will kids in the states also be eligible for these? Think WV, Kentucky, or any poor state in central US. Or is it limited to just 3rd world countries like Mexico, Africa, etc

      Africa is not a country.

      Mexico is not 3rd world

      To answer your question, somewhat [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Will kids in the states also be eligible for these?

      There is no such thing as individual "eligibility" for the laptops, so the question is incoherent. Yes, the US Department of Education is as free as any other national education ministry to purchase the laptops for distribution on a one-per-child basis, though of course they aren't the principal target market and the OLPC feature set is designed around use in a very different environment than one of the most developed nations in the world.

  • by dashslotter (1093743) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:12PM (#19959963) Homepage
    The kids in the factory that makes them?
  • Imagine that!! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by TheDarkener (198348)
    An initiative to better the world.

    You don't see that much these days.
    • Wouldn't building better water, road and electricity infrastructures be a better way to help the world? Most of the articles I read about OLPC mention Africa which is a place that often lacks the basic systems I just mentioned.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheDarkener (198348)
        Wouldn't building better water, road and electricity infrastructures be a better way to help the world? Most of the articles I read about OLPC mention Africa which is a place that often lacks the basic systems I just mentioned.

        Better? I don't know if you can even put them in the same category.

        The fact is, these computer hardware manufacturers and the OSS community are pulling their own resources together for the vision of bringing technology and information to parts of the world that don't yet have it.

        How a
  • by fyoder (857358) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:16PM (#19960023) Homepage Journal

    "There's still some software to write, but this is a big step for us," Walter Bender, head of software development at One Laptop per Child (OLPC), told the BBC News website. "
    A 3rd world tyke expressed disinterest in the OLPC initiative, saying "Scratching figures in the dirt with a stick has always worked just fine for me. I'll consider getting an OLPC computer in a few years once they've worked out the bugs."
    • by r00t (33219)
      The dirt has lots of bugs. The kid himself probably does too.
  • by denttford (579202) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:19PM (#19960063) Homepage
    The one with the preloaded porn?

    It's for a... sociological study in aesthetics... purely educational...
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:27PM (#19960189) Homepage
    Anyone that's done any business in government would anonymously back me up when I say that this whole project moved into mass production so quickly I find it hard to believe. From the olpc wiki, they list some countries.

            * 2.1 Romania--No
            * 2.2 Argentina--Yes
            * 2.3 Brazil--Yes
            * 2.4 Korea---driven by a few citizens
            * 2.5 Libya--Yes
            * 2.6 Nigeria--Yes
            * 2.7 India--No
            * 2.8 Uruguay--Yes
            * 2.9 Rwanda--Yes
            * 2.10 USA--Talking

    Anyone that's worked government IT would tell you that it's incredibly difficult to get paid in a timely manner. On top of *just* getting paid, they've been paid so much the entire OEM chain is ready to mass-produce?

    Someone somewhere has a lot of influence (e.g. money) to get this going because OEM's certainly don't work for free and governments rarely, if ever, are enlighted enough to see a good thing an let it pass. Who's pushing this and where's the money coming from?
    • by griffjon (14945)
      Not to mention, the laptop's yet to be piloted in any real-world implementations, so wherever this money's coming from, it may not really be going anywhere.
      • Not to mention, the laptop's yet to be piloted in any real-world implementations, so wherever this money's coming from, it may not really be going anywhere.


        While it hasn't been used on a large scale, it has been piloted in real-world, classroom implementations in several of the participant countries (including, at a minimum, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Nigeria, and Thailand [the last of which backed out of the project after the recent coup]).
        • by griffjon (14945)
          And? did it work? How many OLPC staff were there handling the implementation? How many trained people per school will a full roll-out require? What hiccups occurred, what's being done to fix them? What is being done about Internet connections for the laptops (without which, bitfrost is not very able to deactivate stolen machines)? It's great that a few classrooms have had OLPC days, what are the results?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)
      My opinion is that there is something more going on than what we see on the surface. That much money doesn't just fly around unless Human Nature is involved. Someone, somewhere, is going to be making money off of this; companies don't just operate humanitarian efforts for fun, effectively wasting valuable resources which they could be better putting to use increasing their stock value (stock holders would have a fit if it wasn't otherwise). And I highly doubt they'll be "creating a new market" with these at
  • by StefanJ (88986) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:28PM (#19960203) Homepage Journal
    Millions and millions of little processors hooked up by a ad hoc wireless network . . . I figure we have nine months until it gains consciousness and starts organizing legions of Third World kids.
  • "The first machines should be ready to put into the hands of children in developing countries in October 2007..."

    Not the only thing to be in their hands according to reports of them checking out www.filthyinternetporn.com.
    http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07 / 21/1353241&from=rss [slashdot.org]
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070720/od_nm/nigeria_ pornography_dc;_ylt=A0WTUfF176FG8XwBExgZ.3QA [yahoo.com]
    http://digg.com/tech_news/OLPC_Brings_Porn_To_The_ Third_World [digg.com]

    Why the grubby wee bastards. Oh wait, this is s
  • The Diamond Age (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk (75490) on Monday July 23, 2007 @03:44PM (#19960403) Homepage
    The OLPC project reminds me of "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" found in The Diamond Age [wikipedia.org]. In the book, a poor girl is given a nanotech book that basically teaches her everything should could ever want to know. Later on, it gets mass-produced resulting in an army of intelligent young girls. The OLPC is kinda like that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nuzak (959558)
      > The OLPC is kinda like that.

      Fiction?
    • by wall0159 (881759)
      I've thought about this too, and I agree wholeheartedly.

      At risk of sounding starry-eyed, I think it's an incredibly exciting prospect -- computers providing a tailored education to children would do more for human society than probably any technological advance since agriculture. Imagine a whole planet of people who had been educated by their own personal tutor!

      There are projects working on the development of a dynabook (the illustrated primer) - one is squeek (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeak) and it lo
  • Nigeria (Score:2, Funny)

    by Superevil (1092143)
    can we opt out of sending these things to Nigeria? I get enough junk email as it is.
  • by davmoo (63521) on Monday July 23, 2007 @04:27PM (#19961107)
    Why do all these stories keep calling this the "$100 laptop", when it actually costs $176 even in quantity?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by delphi125 (544730)
      Probably because all these stories call this One Laptop Per Child, and only a few of them mention a $100 target cost.

      Considering what a 1GB storage laptop would have cost 10 years ago, let alone 20, I think we can safely say that the COST target will be reached relatively soon - within 2-5 years.

      As for the "per child" target, it may take a bit longer. Maybe 20-50. Consider the ever-increasing changes since 1945, less than a lifetime ago. If Nigeria has a million OLPCs next year, it will have close to a mill
      • Isn't is strange how the cost of 1GB of storage has has gone down orders of magnitude over the last decade, and yet a computer still costs about half of-what it did then? Sure, you can put more transistors on a piece of silicon, but it still costs the same to put all that silicon together into a computer and get that computer into someone's hands.
  • So they couldn't get 3 million orders, so they decided to go ahead with production anyway? That might sound like a good plan from a cheery-"We're going to save the world" point of view, but that would be a bad sign in any business situation. They've basically tested the market, found that there's not as much demand as expected and chugged ahead regardless. Along with the failure to meet the actual goal of a $100 laptop, this has all the earmarks of a sinking project.

    I'm surprised Microsoft wasn't involve
    • I've said it before and I'll say it again: the OLPC will end with a massive taxpayer bailout when congress is asked to spend $300 million on laptops that no one wants.


      Why would Congress bail out either the asian manufacturer or the nonprofit? Congress' boondoggle bailouts are generally restricted to for-profit US firms.
  • I'd like to point you out to the Uruguayan OLPC blog, http://olpc-ceibal.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] (English version), which has been keeping up with the developments in my country's project, which aims to give a laptop to every school-age kid, and has started with one of the 19 subdivisions - "departments" - in the country, with a trial already being ran.

    This was covered by Slashdot under the heading OLPC Project Rollout Begins In Uruguay: http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/12/077205 [slashdot.org]
  • by theolein (316044) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @04:45AM (#19966771) Journal
    If there is any one thing that will end Windows dominance amongst the teeming masses of people who don't live in developed countries and who, if they can afford it, usually run pirated versions of Microsoft software, then the OLPC is it. The machine looks like a wonderfully designed machine with some extremely practical features that make it useful in harsh environments where there is little power or infrastructure. It stands to very quickly make Windows a non consideration because the millions of pupils who use the OLPC will ask for siilar environments, and above all, the legal freedom to view and modify the source of the software they are using.

    People seem to think that all third world people are criminals who couldn't care whether the software they use is pirated or not. This is, in my experience, not the case. Most of them simply don't know. If, when the OLPC is used in classrooms, children are made aware of the fact that the software they are using is freely modifiable, then the chance of them looking for the same legal freedoms is much larger. The danger to Microsoft is that in the future, any attempt by Microsoft to buy favours in developing countries will be met by demands that their software provide source and be freely modifiable, something that Microsoft will not agree to.

    Given that any one of these countries where the OLPC is to be implemented could become a large developed country in the future, Microsoft should start worrying, and probably already has. The OLPC would even be an enormously practical machine for technicians and others in developed countries, where power saving is a premium due to enhanced energy costs.

Do you suffer painful illumination? -- Isaac Newton, "Optics"

Working...