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Negroponte vs. Open-Source Fundamentalists 414

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fundies-have-more-fun dept.
fyoder writes "Within the world of One Laptop per Child, both the Negropontistas and the Benderites envision a future for Sugar where it runs on multiple platforms, but the latter don't want Windows (or closed source anything) as part of that future. OLPC's emphasis has always seemed to me to be on Sugar, with Linux simply being a smart technical choice for the underlying OS. Yet what is becoming more explicit with the resignation of Walter Bender is that for many involved in the project there was a strong element of Linux advocacy, such that Negroponte's flirtation with Microsoft is felt to be pure sacrilege."
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Negroponte vs. Open-Source Fundamentalists

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  • by twitter (104583) * on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:18AM (#23225754) Homepage Journal

    The article asks:

    But when did promoting Linux become one of the OLPC's goals?

    This is the wrong question to ask, so it's not surprising that people are a little confused about the answer. This is part of the problem of Open/Free/Linux linguistic ambiguity but it's constantly feed on by people like OLPCNews, an organization run by Intel employees who are working on another project. Eventually, the question is answered:

    These are the ones who believe that open source software in general is critical to the mission of education, and that closed source software, especially that of a convicted monopolist corporation like Microsoft, is not only undesirable, but detrimental to that mission. ... A less inflammatory term would be preferable, though -- say, "people uncompromisingly committed to the empowerment of educators and students through the freedom which open-source software provides."

    It's a little easier to say that secrets and education don't mix. Sharing is good and that children should not be taught the lessons of non free software in an educational setting - that ideas are things to be owned for personal advantage over people kept ignorant by intention.

    It's also easy to see that Microsoft and their friends at Intel want nothing more than to kill OLPC. They would like to see OLPC go the way of DRDOS, BeOS, OS/2, SCO Unix and so on and so forth. They have consistently derided the whole concept and stooped to dirty tricks to block sales and use. Evangelism is still war to them [boycottnovell.com]. Anything they can do to delay the project is good for them, so they will be ready to provide all sorts of help and direction about how to make XP run on the thing and promise to stop hurting the project but it will all be a lie. OLPC will be fine for them when it's One MicroSoft Laptop Per Child and Sugar is broken and forgotten.

    We can further be sure that everyone at OLPC knows all of the above and that the whole issue is just so much FUD and nonsense. OLPC is too busy getting their device to kids to fool with this kind of BS.

    • by wrecked (681366)

      This is part of the problem of Open/Free/Linux linguistic ambiguity but it's constantly feed on by people like OLPCNews, an organization run by Intel employees who are working on another project.

      I know you're a troll, but seeing how your post has been modded up, your statement about OLPC News is seriously misleading. Wayan Vota, the alleged ex-Intel employee and site admin for OLPC News [olpcnews.com], has stated that OLPC is meant to be an global educational project, not a laptop-manufacturing one. The open source stack is critical to the educational goals. He believes that once the XO ships with Windows XP, then the OLPC Project will have truly failed:

      The real prescription for change, the idea that had us all foaming with tech-lust, was the combination of education-specific Open Source software running on clock-stopping hot technology to empower education in the developing world. To change any part of that equation this late in the game represents a fundamental shift in the project and is alienating all of us who wanted to be part of a disruptive movement.

      Windows XP on the XO can be educational, and Sugar on other platforms is beneficial, but neither alone is the OLPC we signed up for.

      from http://www.olpcnews.com/people/leadership/pr [olpcnews.com]

    • by Gordo_1 (256312)

      it's constantly feed on by people like OLPCNews, an organization run by Intel employees who are working on another project.

      Whatever credibility you'd like to think you have was completely lost when you claimed as truth unsubstantiated rumors that have been proven to be false: http://www.olpcnews.com/commentary/olpc_news/olpc_news_conspiracy_theories.html [olpcnews.com]

      Just to make it absolutely clear: Yes, Wayan is kind of a dick and he's been somewhat inexplicably negative towards the OLPC project from the beginning, but he's not and has never been an employee of Intel, nor has anyone else at OLPCNews.

      Incidentally, as a long-time follower o

  • by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:18AM (#23225758) Homepage
    Okay folks, grab your pitchforks and your torches, it's time to round up as many of these damn fundamentalists as possible. They are destroying our world, and need to be exterminated, leaving only us pure non-fundamentalists.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      You are fundamentally an extremist :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by g2devi (898503)
      Fundamentalism is only bad if you have the wrong fundamentals.

      If your fundamentals include "Randomly hunting people for sport is wrong", it's hard to argue....unless you don't mind if you or the people you love are hunted for sport.

      Similarly, if the whole point of the project is to:
      1) Free the third world and developing world from dependency on the first world
      2) Allow children to tinker with every part of the OS so that they can experiment and learn how OSes work so they can gain more than consumer skills.
      3
      • I disagree. Fundamentalism at its core is the belief that the world would be better if everyone thought the same way that you do.

        I agree that everyone should have ideals, but I believe that the ultimate goal should be balance, not monoculture.
  • I predicted this [technocrat.net] a while ago when they were just talking about "dual boot".

    OLPC can go two ways: one of the two is enough of a threat to book publishers and Microsoft that there will be a lot of force waged against it. The other way is just good for world freedom and doesn't have nearly as much power on its side.

    The purpose of OLPC is not to give third world kids a laptop. It's to give them books. You see, those third world countries don't have an annual budget of $100/student to buy kids textbooks. So, OLPC is an efficient means to deliver e-texts to those kids.

    The Microsoft way to do this is to have pervasive DRM as part of the OLPC framework. Microsoft will partner with textbook publishers to make free or low-cost but time-locked and otherwise DRM-encumbered electronic versions of their textbooks available on OLPC. Thus, there will be less reason for the development of fully free e-Texts under licensing that permits redistribution and derivative works. This way, the markets of those textbook publishers in more developed countries won't be threatened by the presence of those free texts, and Microsoft won't be threatened by a large force of youth trained on Linux.

    The Open Source way is to direct the efforts of academic communities toward the creation of fully free e-texts under licensing that permits redistribution and derivative works. This is already well under way. OLPC would run Sugar on top of Linux, and would not in general be a DRM platform. Open texts would become a main stream in education, as would Open Source software. This is obviously a threat to textbook publishers and Microsoft.

    The good news is that OLPC is not the only possible platform, and we can keep working on this without them. The bad news is that OLPC has the mind-share, and that's going to be hard to fight, especially with Microsoft behind them.

    Microsoft has just essentially killed OpenDocument. They have made it redundant as a standard and showed that people who lobby for its use lose their jobs for their efforts. They did whatever was necesssary to win, with much dirty fighting and no shame about it. The folks at ISO and national organizations didn't show any shame about the perversion of their process, either. Expect to see similar in this case.

    Bruce

    • I was wondering where you got the idea that Microsoft would put DRM onto their OLPC/XP for e-books so I checked out your linked blog post.

      "Now, it is likely that third world students will be running DRM-locked textbooks that are only acessable under Windows."

      In other words, you made it all up and are just spreading FUD. Every time Microsoft is involved people start seeing creepy characters lurking in the shadows.

      Yes, Microsoft should be frightened that the third world will grow up using Linux. Apple shoul
      • Every time Microsoft is involved people start seeing creepy characters lurking in the shadows.

        Unfortunately the creepy characters are not just lurking in shadows. Around the OOXML process they were quite visible in stuffing the ballot box, subverting votes entirely, etc.

        Yes, they haven't proposed DRM yet. When rumors of dual-boot on OLPC first came out, I predicted that Negroponte would get closer to Microsoft. He did. I also predicted that there would be DRM on the platform. It's not there yet, but it will be if OLPC continues on this path, and it will be Microsoft's DRM.

        Bruce

      • by sjames (1099) on Monday April 28, 2008 @01:17PM (#23227560) Homepage

        Considering that such a move would be absolutely in character and a natural move for a company with the motto "embrace, extend, and extinguish", why shouldn't we?

        It's a fundamental instinctive rule of thumb that usually serves us well. The guy who stole from you all last week probably intends to do it again today.

        Monopolists are not known for their spirit of freely giving. If you don't see the catch, that just means it is hidden. If it's hidden, it means they believe you'd find it unacceptable if you saw it up front.

        The alternative is an OS that is known to work well on small platforms and has been given freely since it's creation. In what way is that not a safer choice?

      • by EMeta (860558) on Monday April 28, 2008 @01:45PM (#23227956)
        Apple should be equally frightened.

        I disagree. I think widespread usage of Linux is significantly to Apple's advantage. Any market-share taken from Microsoft means less applications will be Windows or IE only. That makes people who are bound to certain applications more likely to feel able to switch. Also, while many /.ers are often torn between OSX and Linux, it's really a quite different market. Apple's drivers and general hardware compatibility will always, I think, be superior to Linux's. That's what they've specialized on from the beginning. Using OSX and Apple computers is easy. If you have any problems, their support center is excellent--and even available in person. I don't see Shuttleworth (or anyone else) investing in that for Linux. The more MS's monopoly is lessened, the greater this difference will be.
    • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:52AM (#23226324) Homepage Journal

      Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?

      800 years ago, Moses Maimonides enumerated the forms of charity, from best to least:

      1. 1. Giving a pauper independence so that he will not have to depend on charity. Maimonides enumerates four forms of this, from the greatest to the weakest:
        1. a. Giving a poor person work.
        2. b. Making a partnership with him or her (this is lower than work, as the recipient might feel he doesn't put enough into the partnership).
        3. c. Giving a loan.
        4. d. Giving a gift.
      2. 2. Giving charity anonymously to an unknown recipient.
      3. 3. Giving charity anonymously to a known recipient.
      4. 4. Giving charity publicly to an unknown recipient.
      5. 5. Giving charity before being asked.
      6. 6. Giving adequately after being asked.
      7. 7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
      8. 8. Giving unwillingly.

      [Text from Wikipedia]

      OLPC with Linux and other Open Source is #1 on Maimonides list. It not only gives them textbooks, it gives them a structure that they can use to control their nation's own destiny - the free software on the system that they can use to communicate, plan, write, etc., and it gives them control over that structure so that they have independence.

      In contrast, giving them a Microsoft framework is giving them an addictive dependence. Not charity at all.

      Bruce

      • Unfortunately, Bruce, that does not the match reality of how these laptops are being used.

        I don't see teachers in sufficient numbers being prepared to take advantage of open source. In Brazil (where I live), I see teachers that can barely teach their subject with a blackboard and white chalk.

        What I see is cool and nice that kids have it, but it is miles away form Seymour Papert's dream. Or Alan Kay's dream.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovG_k2b3AXU [youtube.com]

        When I was in 5th grade, I was taught Logo. I thought it was
        • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:47PM (#23227124) Homepage Journal

          I don't see teachers in sufficient numbers being prepared to take advantage of open source.

          No, they aren't. The very best path to take is to give the children a path to learn those things without teachers. This is not only the case in the third world. Certainly when I was a young person in a wealthy suburb of New York, no teacher available to me was able to spend very much time on the advanced technology that I was interested in. I had to self-teach. That's why the laptop goes home with them. In observation of children and OLPC it's been clear that there is a lot of child-led activity, both collaborative and independent.

          I recently keynoted the Latinoware conference at the Itaipu Binational of Brazil and Paraguay. I stayed in Foz do Iguacu. The differentiation between rich and poor was very clear. It was heartening to see 2500 people from all over Latin America there taking classes on Free Software.

          the GPL license does not, and will not, empower people

          I've got to disagree with you on this. Most people view GPL only from the perspective of the party receiving the software. For the party producing the software, GPL keeps large companies from running away with it while BSD makes it essentially an unrestricted gift to those large companies. Dual-licensing provides an opportunity to charge those who don't want to play by the Open Source rules, and to support the Open Source development with that money. It is true that there are a lot of companies that dual-license and don't really run a convincing community development at all, they are abusing the process.

          Bruce

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          The last point I would like to make is that the GPL license does not, and will not, empower people in India, Brazil, or any other developing nation.

          You're absolutely right. If some kid decides he wants to take some code from the OLPC, commercialize it, and make a mint, he won't be able to do it. OTOH, *who cares*?
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          Any computer is just an information delivery tool.

          Even a system as limited as an EEE PC is adequate for that.

          Just load up the HD with stuff from the Gutenberg project.

          A computer is a national library in your pocket.
        • by elucido (870205) on Monday April 28, 2008 @03:21PM (#23229158)

          Unfortunately, Bruce, that does not the match reality of how these laptops are being used.

          I don't see teachers in sufficient numbers being prepared to take advantage of open source. In Brazil (where I live), I see teachers that can barely teach their subject with a blackboard and white chalk.

          What I see is cool and nice that kids have it, but it is miles away form Seymour Papert's dream. Or Alan Kay's dream.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovG_k2b3AXU [youtube.com]

          When I was in 5th grade, I was taught Logo. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. These kids have Squeak. Squeak has the potential to blow your mind, because Squeak is multimedia-ready (and cool projects like Scratch have been developed on top of it).

          But it seems that it ammounts to having a cool little laptop that can network.

          There's nothing intrinsic to it that demands open source OS. Unfortunately, because ideally one would want to be able to go very, very deep. The project seems to fall short in that respect.

          What are these kids learning that will teach them that it is the human that makes the computer?

          That, to me, is the true "technological transfer."

          So, the way the project has been led has been self-defeating, IMHO.

          The last point I would like to make is that the GPL license does not, and will not, empower people in India, Brazil, or any other developing nation. This was a big mistake. Only a liberal license like the BSD license can empower people, permiting them to compete in a hostile commercial environment, contributing to a common source but not naively exposing one self to bigger corporations that would crush their businesses (unless they want to play the hypocritical "dual-licensing" - an euphemism to proprietary licensing).
          You don't make sense. If I had a laptop when I was growing up, I would have used it to learn whatever I wanted.

          You assume that kids who have these laptops can ONLY use them in the context of a western style classroom where a teacher gives them instructions on what to learn and how.

          Did you consider that there might be some students who for lack of a better word, are geniuses, who can teach the class themselves? And their friends?

          If you give an intelligent person access to unlimited information, and combine it with free time, and tools such as this laptop, learning will happen.

          Just like if you give a kid a TV, the kid can find ways to learn from that for good or bad, if you give a kid a laptop, the kid can learn how to write code, how computers work, how the internet works, and eventually they'll be able to get on the internet and learn how the world works through wikipedia or whatever else happens to be on the internet.

          I don't think this would be as powerful under windows because first of all, no one knows what the windows source code is. If I were a kid and I wanted to learn how windows works, I couldn't look at the code to find out.

          How can you claim something is built for educational purposes if it's closed source? That's the anti-thesis of what you are trying to do with the project.
      • OLPC with Linux and other Open Source is #1 on Maimonides list.

        The first item in the list is give them independence - but what OLPC creates is dependence on a technological infrastructure whose sole source in the whim of OLPC and their national government. At best, OLPC is 1d, at worst... 6 or 7.

        It not only gives them textbooks, it gives them a structure that they can use to control their nation's own destiny - the free software on the system that they can use to communicate, plan, write,

        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          The first item in the list is give them independence - but what OLPC creates is dependence on a technological infrastructure whose sole source in the whim of OLPC and their national government.

          How so? The entire platform is open. Literally, all the source, the specs for the hardware, *everything*. If OLPC vanished today, right now, people could still get along just fine. Can you say the same if MS vanished and left XP behind?

          Additionally, I've always found the "they can modify it" argument a but specio
        • by jedidiah (1196)
          Hardware addiction?

          If it's Linux based then just about any hardware on the planet will do. This
          idea is where the Linux versus Windows question really becomes relevant.

          Free software is... well, free. It is zero cost and free to
          re-distribute. It can also be adapted by anyone to whatever
          hardware you want to run it on. Much of this work has already
          been done for you because there are lots of relevant interested
          parties.

          This is where the object that "you can't personally modify it
          because it's too hard" falls flat
    • by karmaflux (148909) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:00PM (#23226432)
      Hi Bruce,

      I'm a support volunteer for OLPC. I'm not officially affiliated with them, but I've been volunteering for them since last year.

      You're misrepresenting the project. I am not accusing you of making disingenuous posts, but I suspect you're either underinformed or you've got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Yes, the XO-1 laptop is a wonderful e-book platform. However, you don't need most of the stuff it comes with on an e-book reader. For instance, you don't need a webcam to read a book. The fact is, textbooks are one small part of the ideas that constitute Sugar, which is based on constructivist [wikipedia.org] education practices.

      I'm sure you've heard the "it's not a laptop project, it's an education project" quote a million times. Well, it's not an e-book project either. It's an education project, and reading isn't the only way kids learn. We're not talking about the sort of education we receive here in the States, where we listen to an orator and take notes. It's self-directed. The XO-1 is a learning and exploration platform.

      As to Microsoft, I have been assured by higher-ups at OLPC that they're not going to devote any resources to porting Sugar to Windows, or Windows to the XO-1. They just don't have the resources; they're too busy deploying [radian.org] laptops [radian.org]. Negroponte's point is that if someone wants to get it done, OLPC shouldn't stand in their way, which is entirely different from "let's drop linux." He's made other comments in the past about how Firefox wouldn't have gained the marketshare it has if it weren't for Windows. Likewise, a Sugar that is platform-ambivalent would rapidly gain mindshare in the educational world.

      Sugar is not OLPC. OLPC is not the XO-1. Microsoft doesn't control any of those three things, and I doubt they will. Hell, in current builds, Sugar doesn't even start without NetworkManager, which isn't exactly Windows-compatible software.

      You're a luminary in the FOSS world, and a geek hero. I'm sure you know that. I hope you're also aware when you start forecasting things based on insufficient information, a lot of people just take your word for it. I suggest you contact OLPC with your concerns, so they can be suitably allayed.
      • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:08PM (#23226568) Homepage Journal
        Hi Karmaflux,

        Well, I wish I could believe that it will go the way you say. With folks quitting over philosophical differences, I suspect there is some internal struggle over these ideas that you may not be party to. I'd be happy to meet with the current OLPC staff (do I just send Negroponte an email?) and hear their side.

        Bruce

        • by karmaflux (148909) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:23PM (#23226788)
          Trust me, the OLPC support gang has been following the plot. It's important to remember that Negroponte is a visionary -- not just as a label meaning "he comes up with Big Ideas," either. He just looks at everything that way, with a long-term worldview and a high-altitude perspective. It leads to scuffles like this between the head-shed and his field commanders, if that makes sense. Plenty of people send him e-mail, and even us "little guys" get responses. Another great person there is their Technology Manager, Kim Quirk [kim at laptop dot o r g]. I also don't understand your "Microsoft gamed the ISO for OOXML, therefore OLPC is next" rhetoric. The ISO is a flawed quasi-democratic construct, and Microsoft beat them with money. OLPC is a corporate, not-for-profit entity. Are you suggesting they'll be paid to port Windows to the XO-1? Somehow that Sugar will be suddenly close-sourced? The whole point of the GPL and licenses like it is to prevent exactly what you're describing. Even if Microsoft produces a DRM-encumbered operating system for the XO-1, what makes you think a country will choose it over the freely-available Sugar-on-Fedora that the XO currently runs? Furthermore, and more to the point, if an educational body does choose a closed MS platform over a FOSS platform, isn't that their right? If they don't make such mistakes, how will they learn? :) And when the DRM becomes unbearable, Sugar will still be there, still running on Fedora -- and an easy migration destination, if they've spent a year or so running Sugar on Windows.
          • by Simon80 (874052)

            Even if Microsoft produces a DRM-encumbered operating system for the XO-1, what makes you think a country will choose it over the freely-available Sugar-on-Fedora that the XO currently runs?

            Customers have, on occasion, inexplicably chosen Windows [pcworld.com] over Linux at a seemingly late stage in deployment, so it should be a genuine source of worry for anyone supplying Linux machines in large quantities.

          • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:59PM (#23227324) Homepage Journal

            Even if Microsoft produces a DRM-encumbered operating system for the XO-1, what makes you think a country will choose it over the freely-available Sugar-on-Fedora that the XO currently runs?

            The lure of zero-cost, but DRM-locked, proprietary textbooks.

            if an educational body does choose a closed MS platform over a FOSS platform, isn't that their right? If

            It's my duty - and that of others who care about freedom - to tell such educational bodies that they're harming their own people, and why.

            And when the DRM becomes unbearable, Sugar will still be there, still running on Fedora -- and an easy migration destination, if they've spent a year or so running Sugar on Windows.

            You think they're just going to be able to boot an installation system and run it? It takes just a little firmware tweak to make that system boot only signed binaries - and we won't have the signing key.

            Bruce

      • by ahfoo (223186) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:39PM (#23226986) Journal
        Here's how I see it from the perspective of a person in Taiwan with some familiarity with the OEM industry which makes practically all notebooks in the world including the OLPC.

        A lot of people outside of Taiwan don't really grasp what the whole OEM/ODM industrial ecosystem is about. OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer which is a vague title. What it really means is that there are these vast manufacturing plants owned by companies with names mostly unknown in the West that take design specifications from brands like Apple, HP, Compaq etc. and actually make the products in massive swaths of like a minimum of ten thousand units.

        Now these OEMs profit by working on massive scales and have relatively thin margins. In order to profit, they have this basic minimum order number and they can't afford to negotiate below a certain unit number of say ten thousand units.

        By the same token, this minimum order requirement means that there can only be so many players in market because there's only so much capacity and the granularity of the minimum order is set really high so there is something of a zero sum game in this. There is always room for future expansion of sales stay high for prolonged periods, but quarter to quarter things are pretty fixed.

        Now, last year something big happened that had never happened before and that was the OLPC got enough orders that they were able to tie up a manufacturing unit of one of these OEMs. Again, this is a big deal because you can't just magically create more all of a sudden --there's a set amount. And what that meant was for the first time there was all this manufacturing in the notebook market that was being taken out of the windows market and being dedicated to the open source. Now there can be little doubt that MS had assumed for so many years that this market was their property.

        To make matters worse, it was only a few months later when Asus hit the market with the EeePc and soon a whole flood of these little fuckers who weren't paying the tax were springing up like bamboo shoots after a spring rain.

        No doubt this was a huge concern in Redmond. Then CNet attacked Vista and things were just seeming to go to shit and suddenly out of the blue --now come on, is it really out of the blue-- Negroponte announces that XP is probably just as good as Linux for the OLPC.

        I don't think there's a big coincidence here.
             
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bcrowell (177657)

      The Open Source way is to direct the efforts of academic communities toward the creation of fully free e-texts under licensing that permits redistribution and derivative works. This is already well under way.

      I have to disagree with you that it's "well under way." There's this wiki [laptop.org]. If you look at the books listed there, there is almost nothing at all at the K-12 level. Virtually the entire list consists of college textbooks, and quite a few of them are not even freshman college texts, they're at the upper-division level.

      Maybe we're talking about different time scales. I've been cataloguing free books at theassayer.org since 2000. During that time, the good news has been that hundreds of high-quality free

  • by Improv (2467)
    Is this news or just fyoder's take on the situation?
  • Negropontistas and the Benderites
    Ah! The pseudo-religious terminology phase. Let's check the Rational Being's Book Of Life for the proper response.

    Hmmm... it says "Face in opposite direction and run away as fast as you can."

    Huh. I seem to run across that one a lot these days.
  • by trb (8509) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:21AM (#23225798)
    Feel free to run Windows, if that's what you prefer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      People should only be allowed freedom as long as it's the right freedom. Get with the movement, man!
      • by MBC1977 (978793)
        Er, thats not freedom then. I'm hoping your being sarcastic... but sadly I believe you're serious.

        Freedom, means I am able to choose or not choose free software. (In my case, I use as little free software as possible.) That is my conscious choice. You're free to try and convince me (and others) otherwise, though you'll have a better chance with the others than me, as I truly enjoy my Windows experience. But getting back your statement, there is no such thing as "right freedom". Who defines right?
      • by rbanffy (584143)
        The problem with this specific freedom is that by empowering a convicted monopolist you are helping it destroy the freedoms of others by making harder for them to function with their own choices.

        If Microsoft became a responsible corporate citizen, I would have no trouble with people using and advocating for the use of Windows, but, as it is now, it's like advocating for the freedom to purchase drugs from drug-and-miscellaneous-crime cartels.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:23AM (#23225820)

    Yet what is becoming more explicit with the resignation of Walter Bender is that for many involved in the project there was a strong element of Linux advocacy, such that Negroponte's flirtation with Microsoft is felt to be pure sacrilege.


    Negroponte himself, until recently, viewed openness of every component as a key principle of the project, which is why offers from both Apple and Microsoft to provide a free-as-in-beer customized version of their respective flagship OS's as the primary OS for the project were rejected out of hand.

    It should be unsurprising that a project that, from the top, embraced openness as a central precept has attracted lots of people for whom such openness is an important ideal, and who are quite disappointed when the leader of the project suddenly embraces a proprietary technology and suggests shifting effort to supporting that technology.
    • It should be unsurprising that a project that, from the top, embraced openness as a central precept has attracted lots of people for whom such openness is an important ideal, and who are quite disappointed when the leader of the project suddenly embraces a proprietary technology and suggests shifting effort to supporting that technology.

      But it's funny as hell when said idealists have to make a conscious choice between their open-source principles and getting more computers in the hands of kids (by selling

    • by hey! (33014)
      Well, this is the old openness/freedom dichotomy, isn't it?

      Arguably one of the most restrictive things about proprietary software is the way that the vendor's decisions are forced upon you. It's possible, for example, to use Microsoft's entire product stack and replace one item, say SQL server, or IIS. But really the path of least resistance is choose to be greater than 90% Microsoft centric or less than 10%.

      Yes, it's important to have a completely open solution so that users can, if they wish, control th
  • by Ilan Volow (539597) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:24AM (#23225854) Homepage
    To hell with ideology. Two completely different user environments, one running on top of another and ultimately requiring someone at some level to be an expert in both, is bad design and asking for trouble.
  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:25AM (#23225864)
    No good can come from the OLPC that run Windows or any other proprietary system.

    There are many "pragmatists" who say that it doesn't matter what runs on the device. To those people I submit, you are mistaken.

    Linux, or FreeBSD, or NetBSD, I don't really care, is free. Windows is not. If you give them a laptop for education with free software, you have given them a "gift."

    If you give them an OLPC with Windows, you've waisted everybody's time and energy and simply acted as a Microsoft marketing shill. Trapping even more of the world in Microsoft's monopoly.

    It is reprehensible.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?
      • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:41AM (#23226130)
        Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?

        It may not "matter," per se' but why is "freedom" worth fighting for? Why would people rather be free than in a gilded cage?

        An OLPC running Windows is nothing more than an attempt to trap even more people in Microsoft's monopoly and drain money from the poor.
      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:55AM (#23226352)

        Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?

        It won't matter in the short term. But in the long term, the kid will grow up, and he's likely to find that the only OS he learned how to use isn't being offered to adults for free. Then the price difference between the two paths may become rather large relative to his income.

      • It's not going to matter to him whether it's running Windows or Linux. What will matter is when he wants to update the OS to get some new features, he can either pay MS his family's monthly salary, or he can get it for free.
      • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:05PM (#23226520) Homepage
        Why should it matter to some poor kid if their textbooks are accurate, or if their laptop is a method to lock them in to a commercial relationship rather than a way to bootstrap local computer knowledge? Surely the kid won't know the difference or care?

        We don't base such decisions on what a child feels is important; if we did, we'd be giving them $100 of candy instead of laptops.
      • by russellh (547685)

        Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?

        How very neocolonialist of you. This is the same as the question: why do poor farmers care who owns the patents for their seeds? As long as farmers are good obey copyright law, they don't have to worry about being crushed like a bug. Now: when in the world have dirt-poor kids been at risk of accidentally violating copyright law by inspecting an educational instrument that they have been given ?

      • by LS (57954)
        As others have already mentioned, books may go the way of DRM if Windows is running underneath. That is why it matters what OS the laptop is running.

        LS
      • by Wylfing (144940)

        Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?

        It matters a lot. As other posters have already pointed out, Microsoft wants to see OLPC dead. Are you too young to remember the NC? This the same game. Probably XP will never actually ship on an OLPC laptop. Microsoft will simply keep OLPC preoccupied with trying to make XP run on the thing. "Oh just hang on a few more months, I'm sure we can get XP to run OK, and then the users will be able to

      • Why should it matter to some poor kid, just needing a way to afford schoolbooks, what OS his laptop is running?

        It shouldn't. But, as I've said from the start, OLPC isn't about kids or education - it's about politics and philosophy. These considerations dominate the OLPC.
    • I find it amazing how people who were all "visualize world peace", "think of the children", "let's sing cumbaya", and "brotherhood of mankind" who became part of the OLPC community via the G1G1 program can turn on a dime and be so vitriolic, judgmental, intolerant, and cynical when people don't fall lock-step into their beliefs.

      As long as one toes the party line about Linux being the only platform viable for educating children, then all is well. But dare to consider the possibility that a slimmed down XP

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by poot_rootbeer (188613)
        But dare to consider the possibility that a slimmed down XP might also be a viable option... you better duck.

        There is a common misconception that having an "open mind" requires one to consider all possibilities to have equal validity.

        Knowing what I know about Sugar, and about each operating system, I cannot identify any scenario in which XP would be a better fit for the OLPC project than Linux.

        This is not to say the OLPC project does not have issues; it does, not the least of which is all the hardware built
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Saint Gerbil (1155665)
      a free lightweight version of Windows XP which has been designed to run on the XO will cost more. How? No more hardware needed no licence costs. Granted it is MS trying to get the next generation hooked on its OS but its already the most popular OS on the planet and I think its better to give kids skills they are likely to use in the work place than skills they are less likely. your definition of free seems to be more than slightly warped.
  • Off track (Score:3, Interesting)

    by esocid (946821) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:27AM (#23225884) Journal
    Negroponte is getting off track of the goal of the OLPC. Instead of the $100 goal it's now around $177 I think. Take away that open source and involve microsoft and the price will increase again with the new necessary hardware, and maybe whatever they want for the software. I said it before and got berated, but I don't like the sound of this. It's not even that I want linux on them, but having some closed source doesn't seem to fit with affordability for the masses that the OLPC's goal was.
  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:27AM (#23225892) Homepage Journal
    Many of the people who paid for the buy one, give one did so with the idea that they were spreading Open Source as well as getting computers into the hands of children that otherwise would not have them. Now that may or may not be a good thing, but that is why people thought they were doing. When you take people's money it is better to keep faith with them.
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:27AM (#23225900)
    Negroponte: Hey, look at me, I'm an attention whore!
    The Market: *yawn*
    FOSS: *yawn*
    MS: $$$ !
    Slashdot: -1, Troll
    Negroponte: Hey, look at me, I'm an attention whore!
  • by m50d (797211) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:28AM (#23225904) Homepage Journal
    they wouldn't have rejected OSX. And I say this as a mac hater.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:29AM (#23225932) Homepage Journal
    Last time I checked, I thought the goal of One Laptop Per Child was just that, One Laptop Per Child. It wasn't "come up with a way to push Linux everywhere"... they just used Linux because it happened to be free.

    But... if Microsoft ponies up a few buckazoids and delivers some value to OLPC such that it helps OLPC meets its goals, then, how is that bad for the kids getting the computers, all Windows cracks aside?

    • by tgatliff (311583)
      In my opinion, the real thing at play here has nothing to do with the children, but rather has all to with the dominate OS. Meaning, MS and Intel were concerned in the early days that if OLPC took off that the upcoming user base of the developed nations would run the risk move away from the WinTel platform. It was because of this fear that they moved into this sector with a "money loss" approach with the intent of killing OLPC.

      Finally, it is my prediction that now that OLPC is pretty much dying on the vin
  • by KlomDark (6370)
    The last Walter Bender.

    New movie from M Night Shamalyananananan coming next year!
  • This article lists no primary sources of Negroponte's opinions, Bender's opinions, or in fact any other referneces to direct opinions. You may as well use a meta-analysis of psychiatric studies of psychiatric studies to validate cancer treatments.

    I know it's a slow news day, but this is wasting time looking for flame wars.
  • by nguy (1207026) on Monday April 28, 2008 @11:51AM (#23226306)
    I just don't see the point of running Sugar on top of Windows or Windows on the OLPC. The only reasons for running Windows over Linux are related to drivers or Windows software. Let's look at those. Out of the box, Linux supports far more devices than Windows, and driver installers simply won't work well for the OLPC user community. And what Windows software does Negroponte think people will want to run on the OLPC? Sugar on Windows would require a lot of porting, and it's unlikely that it would work particularly well. If you want an educational software environment on Windows, get Squeak and eToys.

    This is not even taking into account the fact that Microsoft would likely take advantage of any alliance with OLPC to destroy OLPC, like Intel tried, and like they have done with so many other business partners; Microsoft simply isn't a trustworthy business partner. Furthermore, it is reasonable and justifiable for volunteers to have the goal of exposing children to an alternative to the Microsoft Windows monopoly, rather than to further Microsoft's business interests; that's not "fundamentalism", it is long-term rational, economic self-interest. Few people would have volunteered if it had meant developing a free educational software platform for Windows.

    So, Windows on the OLPC just doesn't make any sense, and Sugar on Windows also makes little sense. And an alliance with Microsoft doesn't make sense either. I certainly am not going to develop free software for some kind of get-them-hooked-early Windows educational platform. There are plenty of other projects that help children that I can volunteer for. Negroponte either needs to make a more convincing argument (good luck), or he can expect a mass exodus of volunteers; nobody is obligated to work for him or his vision.
  • I have an XO and I'm thrilled with it, and so is my 6yr old.

    But there are annoyances beyond it being sluggish (which is perhaps to be expected with the low-end hardware)

    The mouse goes random every now and again. The XO does not turn off reliably. Drawings get "out of control" as you draw a rectangle and it seems to go in any direction except where you want to put it. The paradigm of fetching a picture from the journal to paste into a document is just too time consuming. WiFi to a gateway has "issues".

    It see
  • by seandiggity (992657) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:07PM (#23226562) Homepage
    ...which begs the question: Why not just fork Sugar and get it to run on an ubuntu-minimal install (with some tweaks, obviously)? Has Mark Shuttleworth weighed in on the OLPC situation yet? Maybe he would get behind some low-cost PCs running Ubuntu/Sugar.

    Oh, and anyone who wants to run Sugar on Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy can find the packages in the "universe" repository.
  • Sugar is the problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rcallan (1256716) on Monday April 28, 2008 @12:12PM (#23226644)
    I see no problem with allowing XP, if MS wants to pay for the development. Sugar is so slow and unusable (yes I've used it recently and thoroughly) that it actually gives XP a chance (but not a good one) of achieving comparable responsiveness.

    Sugar is a blatant reinvention of the wheel, with the motivation being to evangelize a particular type of interface.

    A well designed os is invisible to and unnoticed by the user. I think the same thing is true for a window manager (which is what sugar boils down to at the end of the day). They should just pick a simple X implementation that meets their requirements, pick a simple window manager _that is actually being used daily by people in the real world_ and move on to the applications and content, which is what really matters.

    With sugar they're falling into the windows trap of "the users are idiots, let's bend over backwards to dumb down the interface." I think smart kids are going to be pissed when they realize no one in developed countries uses sugar, and they see how fast their system can run without sugar. The smart kids are really the ones olpc should be targeting, because they are the ones that will grow up to make a difference in these countries.

  • give into her temptations with caution, for those memories of passion shall haunt you for the rest of your days.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Monday April 28, 2008 @01:11PM (#23227490)
    aid from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation comes with little strings attached that require the recipients to order the XP version of OLPC...
  • by jjn1056 (85209) <jjn1056 AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 28, 2008 @01:51PM (#23228042) Homepage Journal
    I mean, MS has never been open to alternative GUIs for their OS. Back in the Windows 3.x and Windows 9x days it was fairly easy to swap out the desktop manager, but I don't think thats the case now. I would guess MS has a big investment in branding the desktop experience, particularly since they have to compete with the MacOS much more directly. Would MS even let them call it Windows?

    Seems to me what some people want is the ability to run the standard Windows Apps, mostly MS Office, and to have the ability to do some training with MS development tools. I guess I can sort of see this from the perspective of a country that wants to be the next outsourcing mecca. I'm not sure if the OLPC hardware would be good for this.

    Maybe they could just dualboot the thing? Then let MS do their best to provide the missing pieces. If they want to play, then let them pay
  • by BitwizeGHC (145393) on Monday April 28, 2008 @03:03PM (#23228912) Homepage
    The thing to remember about the OLPC is that it's not a machine intended for conventional usage, like your PC or a company server. It's a discovery tool. Its purpose is to give kids a view onto a representational territory of concepts from math, science, music, reading, and other disciplines, and promote learning through exploration, discovery, construction, and sharing of information.

    I submit that such a discovery tool which encourages exploration and discovery of the tool itself is vastly more useful than one which does not. It's what Guy Steele called "going meta". Windows is not a very discoverable operating system.

    In order for OLPC to fulfil its original stated purpose -- a rather noble one -- it must be based on open source. Linux is a good choice but it could be FreeBSD or Darwin or Plan 9 underneath as long as the source is freely available.

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