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Education Operating Systems Portables Software Windows Hardware IT Linux

Comparison of Windows XP and Linux/Sugar On the OLPC XO 203

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-hardware-is-awesome dept.
griffjon writes "OLPCNews has a comparison of Windows XP to the Sugar/Linux OS on the One Laptop Per Child XO-1, based on the Microsoft Unlimited Potential video, touching on video recording, power usage, boot times, and mesh networking. An interesting, if saddening, read."
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Comparison of Windows XP and Linux/Sugar On the OLPC XO

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  • by Manip (656104) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:28PM (#24353533)

    Comparing Sugar to Windows XP is kind of like comparing a pushbike to a 747 engine...

    They're designed to do different things. Sugar is designed to be incredibly simple needing little training (or reading skill). It allows people to use a computer without having to learn how to use a computer.

    Windows XP is a versatile monster trying to offer all things to all people. It is hugely complex and requires the average person a great deal of time to pickup and use.

    I can understand why Microsoft might wish to run XP on the X0 but what I struggle to understand is why anyone is comparing them to one another.

    If Microsoft develops some kind of child friendly interface that children can use then we can start talking about it. But until that happens you just aren't comparing the same thing at all.

  • Re:Sugar is worse (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:29PM (#24353545)

    I suggest you read and understand the philosophy behind OLPC, the XO laptop, and Sugar, before posting such blatantly ignorant posts as this one.

  • by Kangburra (911213) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:32PM (#24353555)

    You mean like Bob? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Bob [wikipedia.org]

  • by RobertM1968 (951074) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:51PM (#24353671) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft never claimed they were killing off XP. They claimed that for normal desktops and most laptops, it soon will be no longer available.

    Microsoft still "maintains" and sells their older operating systems for a variety of other needs, such as embedded devices, low power devices, etc. This move coincides with that. In the Windows world, the XO is far from what people would consider a normal PC. While Linux variants, eComStation and OS/2 can still run on "outdated" hardware, newer versions of Windows cannot (run being defined as run in a usable fashion, including doing such things as word processing, etc). While their OS strategy is largely to blame for that, their policy does address it by their continued selling of older operating systems when the requirements are met (ie: slower and/or less powerful hardware, embedded devices, set-top boxes, xBox/xBox360s, etc).

    The sadder point, which would have been a valid one for you to bring up, is that the current bloat in their newer OS incarnations is the cause for them having such a policy. Bloat which is not needed in any form or fashion - as an example, a fully implemented (we can hope for that day) Wine or Odin on Linux or OS/2 or eComStation would be able to run virtually any Windows app on OS's that require a much smaller CPU and memory footprint, and make far better use of the available resources.

    Thus, (to bring this conversation full circle), Microsoft, instead of being technologically innovative in OS design, has decided to hold on to their older operating systems for the hardware still being built that they know their newer ones cannot run on. It's the same reason why Win3.1 sales in similar vertical markets is just ending now.

  • by perlchild (582235) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:55PM (#24353711)

    but what I struggle to understand is why anyone is comparing them to one another.

    Because there have been pressures on the OLPC to replace one with the other. To know how useful such pressures are, you have to compare them. That the pressures are lobby-driven and really have nothing in common with what people associate with "sense" is the result of that comparison.

  • Re:Sugar is worse (Score:5, Informative)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:11PM (#24353793) Homepage

    That the underlying philosophy is good doesn't change the fact that Sugar has still a lot of problems. The journal getting filled with tons of completly useless entries, which basically render it unusable, is just one of them, the other is that even a "Hello World"-app takes almost 10 seconds to start up, while it starts instantly when started from the terminal.

  • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:22PM (#24353879)

    Please help me out here, does the author really think that kids in third world countries are going to be doing development work on these limited devices?

    I think that was generally the idea, that the kids would be able to change almost anything they wanted in the user environment they were given.

    Based on the quote below from the article the author really beleives that these devices should be open to tampering/fiddling. Does he think that if the device fails there will be a geek squad near by?

    If I understood correctly, there was supposed to be a reset feature that would restore the original state of the OS if you really screwed it up, so that there needn't be any fear of allowing them to fiddle with things.

    Are hacking skills of value when you live in a mud hut?

    Again, if I understand correctly, the idea was to avoid putting up artificial barriers by assuming that kids have no need to poke and prod and see how things work. Maybe hacking skills will be of little interest and/or value to most kids, and for them the OLPC was supposed to be at least a container for a lot of textbook material, at a cost less than a big stack of textbooks. And, as a bonus, for the kids that find hacking on software interesting, maybe it's something that will help them.

    If you think money is better spent on something else, please agitate in favor of that other option instead of railing against a program that (whatever you think of their chances of success are) is trying to provide education to people that can benefit from it.

  • by nawcom (941663) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:33PM (#24353969) Homepage

    The concept is to integrate computer technology into areas that cannot afford it. This is more than just "learning how to click things and checking your email", it (at least the initial plan) was to spread the knowledge of computer technology, programming, and to expand interests to areas that are involuntarily cut off from it.

    And for your GeekSquad comment: People who work at GeekSquad are stupid. 99% get confused when "unix" is mentioned, so they whip out their nutsack to show that they haven't had theirs removed. I've had to help GeekSquad kids multiple times with issues; in fact one time I had to tell one of them that they have to use the 48-bit MAC address from the person's laptop in order to set up the router, and he blatantly stated, "Well, we only support Windows." Nuff said.

    If you can find someone who is struggling with their preinstalled Linux laptop due to the retarded causes (like spyware, horribly fragmented filesystems, viruses, un-needed bloatware, driver irq issues, etc) that are common in Windows, let me know. Hell, Submit a post here when it happens. In the mean time, when someone in a third world country decides, "Hey, I want to make a program just like this (points at app on the screen) they have the freedom (as in costs) to learn about it and complete their goal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @11:25PM (#24354763)

    I switched to Debian and saw a world of difference from XFce Ubuntu to Debian XFce gtk+ only!
    No Gnome except the keyring.
    Low memory footprint is essential with flash file system. Allows for lots of caching etc.
    With Firefox Gvim and more I'm at about 100Megs ram for programs leaving 150 for buffers and cache.
    I turn off disk caching in firefox. No Flash player now but can download the flv with right click so probably a net positive. Flash is annoying.(e.g. Ads)

    Etch seems a good fit.. Let people know -- only hires solution yet. Works very well for everything if you tune it a bit. Mp4 movies at 592x256 mplayer sdl -- belive it.

    http://layer-acht.org/debian/olpc/ [layer-acht.org]

    Keep the XO alive...

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @12:05AM (#24354995)

    They are supposed to be offering another round og G1G1 (give 1 get 1) this autumn. But based upon the last round, I don't think that you're going to get many buyers who will end up developing for it. Another indicator is that Sugar has been ported to other Linux distributions. If you want to develop for it, you can do so today. Some people do, but it is by no means a massive outpouring of support.

    Don't get me wrong, the XO itself is a nice piece of hardware. Alas, Sugar is buggy and does not perform all that well. Many of the original claims simply have not be met, and it does not appear that they ever will be. Battery life is a classic example here. The XO does reasonably well: roughly 4 hours on a new battery. That is roughly what a new battery in my old PowerBook G4 managed, while the XO battery is half the capacity. Performance sucks, and you can expect the machine to lockup like clockwork. I suspect this is because it is in Python, which not only slows things down, but chews up an incredible amount of RAM. The joyride branch seems to be much faster and has bumped up the battery life to 8 hours or so in some circumstances, but it has a long way to go. For instance, RAM consumption is still beyond the means of this machine. (Remember, it has no swap file. Those who want a swap file are using disposable USB keys.)

    I'm one of the people who picked it up thinking that I could program this thing. While I did learn a lot by exploring the internals (which are in the form of accessible Python code), I have a hard time seeing how a well-meaning but inexperienced adult can program the critter. Nevermind a child in the third world. The code itself is not very clear, and the whole thing is (or at least was) pitifully documented.

    Will XP solve these problems. Maybe, maybe not. It won't make it easier to program, and it certainly won't allow kids to explore the internals. It will allow kids and schools to access more education software in principle, but who knows how well that would work out in the developing world because software licenses are often expensive.

  • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday July 27, 2008 @06:45AM (#24356813) Homepage

    That you can't buy one is a really big problem in getting those things to the masses, especially now when Eee and other subnotebooks are taking over that market segment. However for those that really want to develop for the XO, there is the Developers Program [laptop.org] over which one can get a device.

  • Get on the lists to find out what the real story is.

    I shouldn't spoil the plot, but other people might read this.

    Sugar on XP is not scheduled to replace either Sugar or Linux. The only people trying (desperately, per the friendly A) to show how XP runs on the thing (and using a lot of slight-of-hand to do so) are with/from Microsoft.

  • 667,000 (Score:3, Informative)

    by westlake (615356) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @01:31PM (#24359833)
    XP on the XO is M$ attempt simply to pull some popularity out of the XO
    .

    Confirmed sales of the XO as of May 2008 were 667,000 units. Summary of laptop orders [wikipedia.org]

    The XO isn't meeting the reception the Geek thought it would. Not every education minister believes in constructivism.

    Some are worried that what would be buying is an overpriced e-book reader -- because his teachers won't have the experience, training, or resources to use it any other way - and neither will his kids - no matter often the geek fantasies otherwise.

    The PC outside the grade school classroom looks much like Windows. It may very well be Windows.

    That matters to the minister who wants to see kids make a smooth transition into the higher grades, channel them into secondary education, job training and employment.

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