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New OLPC Laptop 1.5 Dual-Boots Sugar, Gnome Desktop 81

griffjon writes "The new hardware release (you can read about the upgrade here) also comes with a dual-boot option. Start rejoicing now; it's not XP or Sugar (the native, education-centric OS) — it's Sugar or Gnome. And of course there are other homebrew distributions like Xtra Ordinary, built off of Debian."
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New OLPC Laptop 1.5 Dual-Boots Sugar, Gnome Desktop

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  • by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:07PM (#29531295)
    From TFA, it sounds like you just have a choice between desktop environments. . . like you can do in every other Linux distro . . . Not that dual-booting two separate OSes makes much sense (as a default shipping option, anyway).
  • A backwards step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hande1 ( 1619561 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:14PM (#29531383)
    All the innovation is slowly being peeled back. Look at the OLPC now and you see a stripped back, diluted netbook. The VIA C7-M architecture is about 4-5 years old. To say the core of this hardware is pushing the boundaries is laughable. Once upon a time the OLPC team would take a leap and risk their necks on an interesting HW choice - now they're tied to X86 so they can suckle off MS. I sincerely hope that V2 brings the design back to its low power roots by embracing ARM although the way Negroponte is shacking up with the Windows brigade does not look hopeful. Kids don't need 720p playback (The screen for one isn't suitable). Looking at the OLPC now just makes me sad, and a little angry that this revision is going to be lauded so much. My Dell Mini 10 is more innovative...
  • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:43PM (#29531693)
    I believe the Negroponte's goal is to get computers into the hands of students in developing countries. Not to promote open source software. Now, I know from experience that open source software is significantly less expensive on a per seat basis, builds local skills and support, and offers flexibility you just can't get from other options. The problem is the customer doesn't. I've seen too many school board members and district technology heads married to Microsoft and Apple and whoever else with a marketing budget that walks through the door. All Negroponte is doing is adjusting to his customers to get the hardware through the door. Now I'd prefer he use his bully pulpit to drive the cost savings and flexibility open source provides, but they've chosen not to. The technology is easy, the politics are hard.
  • by klapaucjusz ( 1167407 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:56PM (#29531861) Homepage

    Now, I know from experience that open source software is significantly less expensive on a per seat basis, builds local skills and support, and offers flexibility you just can't get from other options.

    That is not the main point.

    The main point is that by using Free software, OLPC will get millions of children exposed to the idea that computers are tweakable -- that it is okay to look under the hood of your computer. By using proprietary software, OLPC will get millions of children exposed to the notion that computers are frozen, that you're allowed to look but not to touch.

    The choice is political, not economic.

  • by trybywrench ( 584843 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:56PM (#29531867)
    if i had mod points i'd mod you up solely for your last sentence. In addition to the politics, never underestimate the logistics problems. I bet only 10% of the over all project is actually engineering and software.
  • by WinterSolstice ( 223271 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:33PM (#29532301)

    Agreed. Also, as per the GP - Why on earth would someone confuse either Sugar or Gnome with an OS?

    Really people - get outside the GUI on occasion...

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:48PM (#29532469)
    proprietary software on such a learning tool keeps it a mystery and probably will keep them afraid to do even simple things for fear of it locking up or breaking and requiring someone else to reinstall the software. Then, it's poof, magically fixed by a reinstallation and the feeling that you shouldn't do whatever you did to "cause this" again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:16PM (#29532769)

    I think it's called the Acer Aspire One D250.

    Then again: the acer wouldn't exist if the OLPC hadn't lit a fire under the ass of the industry.

  • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:49PM (#29534537)
    because the idea for the OLPC software was to have the "desktop" get out of the way ASAP and let the application/Activity software be the learning tool. They built it so that instead of a file manager an a dozen ways of finding or saving files they built a queue called a Journal. It's designed as a learning tool not to learn the OS but to learn what the Activities are designed to teach. This also goes along way toward simplifying much of the software too.

    When you throw Windows on there you've got a half dozen ways just top find a file to open it and the same goes for ways to create and figure out where to save the files to. And on top of that you've got all the other software Microsoft thinks they should have on there which has nothing to do with learning how to learn. Touch any of those things when you're not supposed to and you've got a kid crying because his/her computer doesn't work the way he/she was shown it was supposed to work.

    Back to the OLPC method and you'll also have kids becoming skilled at the simple get-out-of-the-way "desktop" as they've spent 3 or so years using it and the few who take to software development have a good chance of learning how to tweak and fix stuff. Simple things but it's all there for them and it's kept to a very task specific/oriented design.

    FYI, Microsoft fears that any kind of success with a computer slightly resembling a regular computer is a threat to Windows and a threat to lose people to being locked into only knowing Windows. After all, when you saw Microsoft's example of XP on the OLPC, they NEVER showed any of the open source OLPC SUGAR Activities or any of the eToys. It was all about getting kids to learn the Windows desktop and all the junk which goes with that even when we are talking about children. Primary grade level school children. They would probably end up spending their entire first year with the device just learning MS Explorer, My Computer, My Documents, 'File-Save', 'Save-As' and all the "Do you really want to do XXXXX?" dialog boxes.

  • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:10PM (#29534785) Homepage
    Windows 7 isn't a good educational platform, it's a proprietary platform. It's a fine platform to run other software on, even open software, but it fails when you want to learn more, or change something, or fix something and it's fundamentally inappropriate for specifically that reason.

    It's also yet another Microsoft misstep down that long and windy road towards a DRM nirvana which is a sort of magnification of the above mentioned problems but with whole slew of new rights limiting issues which only further marginalizes the end user from both their data and environment. By failing to advocate for the rights of their customers they put their own demise into play. Tick-tock.
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @11:45PM (#29536553) Homepage

    The OLPC project is proving to be a very successful project but not necessarily in the way envisaged. It launched the netbook concept which in turn is evolving into smartbooks. Those smartbooks running FOSS of which the help of competitive pressure will drive lower prices and basically point them within reach of school children the world over, not just third world countries but first and second world as well.

    Why, FOSS, because you are training a future work force and that work force should absolutely be trained on software that doesn't increase their foreign debt. It would be bloody stupid, to stick countries that can't afford it with billions of dollars per year in licence fees for closed source proprietary applications, operating systems and servers, I know corporate greed has absolutely no moral bounds but they doesn't stop us a individuals from imposing those moral bounds on those corporations.

    Now coming from a first world country I would be just as critical of my government should they choose a solution that drives foreign debt, there is absolutely no point in establishing a digital education system that inevitably leads to tens of billions of dollars of foreign debt, you are not solving anything you are creating another problem. Ideology, 'NO', pure and simple economics, adopt FOSS in school, train a workforce in FOSS and, not only have you escaped all those pointless licence fees for fiften years but, you create a commercial environment that won't create a drag on the digital GDP you don't force retraining in order to save money and you guarantee free and open access to the stored data over the long term. I won't even touch being held to digital hostage by a single foreign corporation and any profit based decisions they choose to make regardless to the impact upon the consumer or those countries bound to their software.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"