Open Source Abandoned by OLPC

Posted on December 30, 2008  Comments (2)

Not Free at Any Price by Richard M. Stallman

When the OLPC appeared, it fell one step short of full freedom: the highly publicized wireless mesh network device, which allows OLPCs to connect to the Internet through nearby OLPCs, required a non-free program. This piece of non-free code prevented me from fully endorsing the OLPC. But that would not stop me from using one: I would just have to delete the non-free code and do without the internal wireless device.

The OLPC had practical inconveniences, too: no internal hard disk, a small screen, and a tiny keyboard. In December 2007 I test-drove the OLPC with an external keyboard, and concluded I could use it with an external disk despite the small screen. I decided to switch.

If you want to support a venture to distribute low-priced laptops to children, wait a few months, then choose one that donates MIPS-based machines that run entirely free software. That way you can be sure to give the gift of freedom.

He is more anti-microsoft than I am but I agree with this contention that what we should support is a open source solution to provide laptops to children around the world. It is a shame, I really liked the potential for OLPC. I still wish them success I just am not interesting in directly supporting that effort but instead would like an alternative open source solution.

The Sylvania Netbook is available from Amazon now with the Ubuntu operating system (linux version). I use Ubuntu and it is excellent.

Related: Will Desktop Linux Take Off?Lemote (fully open source laptop)13 Things For Ubuntuposts on UbuntuGreat FreewareOne Laptop Per Child – Give One Get OneOLPC’s Open Source Rift Deepens

2 Responses to “Open Source Abandoned by OLPC”

  1. Seth
    December 30th, 2008 @ 9:41 am

    Stallman has a very particular message with his writing. That the ability to run Windows means that the platform is philosophically flawed…

    There are over 500,000 XO’s in countries right now. How many machines are running Windows? 250

    How many are running GNU/linux? 500,000

    Say what you will of the the arrangement OLPC+MS (the /ability/ to run Windows). But OLPC is still shipping GNU/linux.

  2. T.Power
    December 30th, 2008 @ 10:00 pm

    Open source has always been a follower not an innovator. Apple and Microsoft are the ones who, for profit motives, have moved computers and laptops into nearly every life in developed countries and they’ll need to be instrumental in bringing them to third world ones as well.

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