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Novel OS Drives the '$100 laptop' 174

jrwr00 writes with a link to a CNN story about the $100 laptop's unique operating system. We've discussed the OLPC's UI before but the article offers a few new piece of information on the project, which is expected to roll out this year. From the article: "The XO machines are still being tweaked, and [OLPC UI] Sugar isn't expected to be tested by any kids until February. By July or so, several million are expected to reach Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, Thailand and the Palestinian territory. Negroponte said three more African countries might sign on in the next two weeks. The Inter-American Development Bank is trying to get the laptops to multiple Central American countries."
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Novel OS Drives the '$100 laptop'

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  • Where are the apps? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by guanxi ( 216397 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:54PM (#17467118)
    Just because I like to repeat myself every time an OLPC story is posted, I'll ask again: Where are the apps for this platform? Can anybody name one app, accessible to end users (e.g., no recompiling required), that is compatible with the Sugar UI, mesh networking, low-end specs, and other unique features?

    A platform exists only to run the apps, not visa-versa. BeOS was a great platform, too. Many excellent gaming platforms have failed, because they lacked apps (i.e., games). Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence, because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office). Pull a few key apps from MacOS X (e.g., Office, Photoshop, etc.) and see what happens to adoption.

    And all those platforms have far, far more apps available than OLPC (just look at, or I know OLPC runs a flavor of Linux, but no known Linux apps are compatible with the specs above (Sugar, mesh networking, etc.). Go into a shopping mall and give a random person an OLPC -- what would they do with it? Sure, it has some included apps, but that can't be sufficient to meet the needs of millions of kids with every need and in every environment imaginable.

    I hope OLPC works out great, but I can't imagine anyone who has ever designed systems looks at this and thinks anything else but -- great platform, but for what applications?

  • by poopie ( 35416 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @07:57PM (#17467182) Journal
    Surely, it must be possible to build the same "Sugar" interface on any full install of a moder Linux OS... Where are the OS packages? Where is the SVN respository?
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:12PM (#17467356) Homepage
    If a country buys a lot of OLPCs, say 1M, that's $150M. I think they can throw in another million for i18n.
  • by Mogster ( 459037 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:16PM (#17467414)
    I agree entirely kids should be using computers to build and develop their imagination, not become fledgling cubicle monkeys

    The $100 laptop hardware may be designed and destined for the 3rd world - but the interface could be put to use anywhere

    Anything which allows kids to explore and extend their imaginations whilst learning should be embraced wholeheartedly.
  • by BobNET ( 119675 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:17PM (#17467418)
    Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence, because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office).

    Bluh? Is that bad on Linux? Admittedly I've only ever used it on Windows and OpenBSD, and can't really compare it to Microsoft Office since I've never actually used that (mostly because I've never had to)...

  • by uwog ( 707498 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:19PM (#17467440) Homepage
    AbiWord. We have kicked abiword into a library, with the GUI stripped off. This allows one to build a GUI on top of it in python, like the rest of Sugar is. Seamless integration. This will be the writing Activity the children will use. Then we are working on special import/export filters for abiword to read/write the 'fileformat' of choice of sugar: crossmark. This will allow perfect integration with the Journal. Neat trick is that you can even embed abiword in mozilla to do inline editting.

    Also, a collaboration plugin for abiword is being worked on, that will use the mesh infrastructure and sugar presence framework to find and communicate with other users. This will allow realtime collaboration on documents (for example, 2 or more children working on an assingment simultaneously).

    So there you have an application that takes full use of the offered platform.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:24PM (#17467486)
    Most of Sugar, the OLPC's desktop environment, is written in Python []. The source is here:;a=tree []

    I just tried it out, and I am pleasantly surprised! It's amazing how much faster Python is for desktop applications than Java is. Even when using IBM's SWT for developing Java applications, they still feel far more bloated and slower-responding than OLPC's Python-based GUI applications.

    I would have expected Python to be slower than Java, but apparently that is not the case. It could be that the layers upon layers that make up Swing really slow it down. Maybe it's time for Sun to take a page from OLPC's Sugar project, and develop a UI framework that is fast and easy to use.
  • Screenshot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by youngerpants ( 255314 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:29PM (#17467552) []

    Lameness filter is a lameness filter
  • Source code is here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HTPC-Pete ( 1047118 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:30PM (#17467568) Homepage
    For sources and development information see here:;a=summary []
  • Re:OLPC Sucks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @08:39PM (#17467660)
    How does one engineer a product to work properly through the warranty period, but magically fail when it's out of warranty? Certainly, some manufacturers use inexpensive parts when they think they can, and sometimes those parts fail, but it's hard to imagine that's an intended effect.

    What you are describing is not "engineered obsolescence" but "engineered failure," and indeed is hard to imagine manufacturer's doing. Obsolescence != failure.

    Engineered obsolescence means that the manufacturer's product roadmap is such that the product bought today is superceded by better products in a relatively short timeframe, enticing people to keep buying over and over again.

  • by Nasarius ( 593729 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @09:06PM (#17467994)
    Sugar apparently uses PyGTK, so all the heavy lifting is done in C. wxPython works the same way, and it's what I write most of my GUI tools with. Even with lots of callbacks into Python code, it still runs fast. It's amazing how much you can do with just a few lines of code and no need to compile.
  • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @09:46PM (#17468336)
    I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to get my hands on one of these. Why don't they make them available to the Western world at double the price, $200, and put the profits towards making more of them for the 3rd world?

    Because a major reason for the low price is that they aren't doing the kind of packaging and marketing, etc., they'd need to do for individual sales, the cost would be significantly higher than $100 (or even the $150 that looks like it will be the "early adopter" cost) if it were sold to individuals, without any excess to put toward a subsidy.

    That being said, OLPC is looking at making a somewhat more expensive and capable derivative system for sale to the public in the US and other advanced countries, but its a secondary priority.
  • by psy0rz ( 666238 ) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @11:02PM (#17468966) Homepage
    Bloat, and dependencys. This should be a very MINIMALISTIC system, with out any bloat like XML. Furthermore the main document-exchanging will be between those laptops.
  • I love this (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger ( 617870 ) on Friday January 05, 2007 @12:26AM (#17469544) Homepage Journal
    quote FTA: ""In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint," Negroponte wrote in an e-mail interview. "I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools.""

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn