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Portables Hardware Technology

OLPC Available to the Public Early 2008 192

Zoxed writes "The BBC is reporting that the OLPC will be available to the public early next year on a buy-2-get-1 basis through eBay. With its cheap price, fully open spec. and full/open hardware support for Linux, expandability, 2W rating and LinuxBIOS booting it sounds like an embedded-Linux hackers favorite new toy."
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OLPC Available to the Public Early 2008

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  • by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @02:49PM (#17543542) Homepage Journal
    Hmm- anybody know if the cutdown version will still run OpenOffice? If so, it'd make a damn good present for the retired person as well- a machine that will do e-mail, basic word processing, and web surfing, all in a handy little package that includes three USB ports and an SD slot.
  • I would buy one. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlahSnarto ( 45250 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:02PM (#17543780)
    This would make the perfect remote admin tool

    They should totally open the hardware to hacking
    hell even encourage it. Maybe a power Adapter hack
    incase you want to do something like coding.

    i dont know, just throwing ideas out..
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:11PM (#17543952) Homepage
    a: Its about time. Everyone has been clamoring for this, because there are some real interesting industrial & cool uses this could be used for. Between the daylight screen and highly rugged design, this has the potential to be very interesting. I'd be tempted to pick one up for $300 to play with myself...

    b: You can stop the reselling problem (one worry is always that by selling them you'd create an adult market and therefore encourage theft) by a simple expedient: a different color case. Make purchased OLPCs black, and kid ones in cheerful old-school iMac colors, and now they are vastly different products from a retail viewpoint.
  • by spiritraveller ( 641174 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:12PM (#17543962)
    The entire thing is already open source, all the way down to the BIOS.

    That's more open than anything you'll find in an American store.

    The hardware needs to be durable and sealed tight (to keep out dust), so I think encouraging hardware hacks may work against the goals of giving poor children a long-lasting device. But that's not to say you couldn't take a hacksaw to it and explore... no doubt, many people will do just that once it's put on the market..
  • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:14PM (#17543990) Homepage Journal
    Has anyone backing this project considered how these laptops will become nothing more then a symbol of America and 'Westernization'? What happens when it is taken as a political message that these are being distributed to certain regions, and groups who oppose the symbolism move to suppress it? I know this is outside the scope of the current discussion but I am genuinely interested in what has been considered, especially before I think about writing a check...
  • by Flamefly ( 816285 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:45PM (#17544568)

    Abiword is already running on it, albeit with a simplified interface. You can download the image for the OLPC OS and give it a go, it's very easy to do. lling []

    I actually find the interface a little non-intuitive for the beginning user, which I find at odds with it's goals. The documentation itself states

    Before you launch the emulated image, we strongly recommend reading through the Sugar Instructions on how to use the environment -- this does not look like the Windows or Mac operating systems!

    Essentially you start with a blank screen, to launch a program you move the mouse to edge of the screen which brings up the program bar. It seems to me it would have made a little more sense for the program bar to be active by default (at least when no programs are currently active). Or at least a little "Start here arrow" for the first few boots."

    While I'm being critical, I'd also change the Abiword icon to look more relevant to a pen and paper activity (It's currently the AbiWord logo), and rejig the web icon to be a bit of a more obvious globe.

  • by ACMENEWSLLC ( 940904 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @03:59PM (#17544850) Homepage
    This project will be surpassed by cell phones.

    My cell phone is $150 at t-Mobile with a 2 yr contract, or $200 with a 1 year. On e-bay, unlocked, it is $165.

    It runs Windows Mobile 5.0, has WIFI, uses very little power thus could be charged off cheap solar power. It has 200MHz processor at over 2GB of disk space, 64MB RAM.

    I have Opera, Skype, VNC, and other applications on it. For $20 I have added 2GB of disk space from the base 64. It has bluetooth and I can hook a bluetooth mouse/keyboard to it.

    Sure, this ain't no laptop. It's "not there" yet. However, a friend has Mobile 5.0 release 2 and has Terminal Services client and office viewers. We are close.

    The new iPhone runs OSx. Some new cell phones are on UMPC platform and run Windows XP tablet edition, starting at around $900 up to $2000.

    I venture to say that in 5 years, our cell phones will do everything an office PC does. As long as you are not a gamer cad cam or video guy, you could do all your work off your cell phone. Having a docking station at home/work.

    Given the mass market of cell phones, and the willingness of people to fork over cash for them, I'd say we will get a device that can do all the basic computer functions soon. And through the second hand market we could provide these to 3rd world countries at about the same price.

    I may be wrong, but I don't think so :)

  • I tend to agree, except for one small problem- the lack of a fullsize keyboard and screen. While this is a good platform (notice in another reply I mentioned Windows Mobile "sublaptops"), the lack of a fullsize screen is a huge detriment, especially to eyes that need at least a 12pt onscreen font for reading. Likewise the lack of a full size keyboard makes it hard to type on.

    But beyond that, you're quite correct- my T-Mobile MDA which I purchased when it was *much* more expensive ($495 with a 2-year contract) is exactly the type of platform I'd like to give to cutomers, except for the aforementioned problem of keyboard and screen (lack of USB type A host connector is also a problem, but I'm working on that one- Windows Mobile 5.0 supports USB OTG, and all that is required is a special cable with a separate power source).
  • Re:OLPC? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Miniluv ( 165290 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:02PM (#17547172) Homepage
    The reason many of the projects that tried to dominate the people to lift them out of squalor failed for exactly that reason. It just isn't possible for a company in Canada to understand the water economics of indigenous villages in South America, and you end up with policies that make drinking the water out of a bucket in the backyard illegal unless you pay them for it. The good thing though is that they did fail.

    The reason its so exciting to see philanthropy dominated by folks like Bill Gates or Mark Shuttleworth is that they're smart enough to know they don't know everything. They go out and hire the top percentage of specialists for the problem they want solved and they ruthlessly weed out the failed ideas as soon as failure is obvious.

    Its not their tech savvy thats exciting, its their business savvy and the fact that it is obviously working better than what we had. Witness Warren Buffett, arguably the best investor of his generation, plowing all of his money into the Gates Foundation.

    Further, witness the really fundamental change from the status quo of them stating that by a given moment in time all of their money will be gone. Recognizing that they are about solving specific problems and that when those problems are gone so should the money be.
  • Re:OLPC? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:15PM (#17547376) Homepage
    I disagree with your armchair psychoanalyzing. If you're a nonprofit with a small budget, you might have the money and manpower to distribute a million doses of a critical vaccine. But if you tried to spend that same budget on a truly self-sufficient vaccine producing facility, you'd be broke before you spent even a few percent of the money necessary. It requires building the factory, educating the people who run it, buying the ingredients, etc.

    Now, a water treatment facility would be a different story, since trucking in water for the indefinite future would be the bigger undertaking. But nobody is actually talking about doing that. "Providing clean water" isn't meant to be taken literally; rather, it's a shorthand for providing water purification/filtration systems of various scales.
  • by pademelon ( 1049456 ) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:01PM (#17549748)
    Nor is the BBC saying anything about Linux or open source as far as I can see. They had an audio report on the OLPC a few weeks ago in the BBC World Service program "Digital Planet". That didn't mention anything about the operating system - hardware support for Linux - or BIOS, but they did say that Microsoft were shipping a "cut down version of Windows". Towards the end of that program they reported that some readers had complained about pro-MS bias in previous editions. They dismissed this complaint of course.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"