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Is One Laptop Per Child Winding Down? 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-one-steam-machine-per-child dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from OLPC News about whether the One Laptop Per Child project can expect to continue much longer: "Here is a question for you: 8 years on, would you recommend anyone start a new deployment with XO-1 laptops? With the hardware now long past its life expectancy, spare parts hard to find, and zero support from the One Laptop Per Child organization, its time to face reality. The XO-1 laptop is history. Sadly, so is Sugar. Once the flagship of OLPC's creativity in redrawing the human-computer interaction, few are coding for it and new XO variants are mostly Android/Gnome+Fedora dual boots. Finally, OLPC Boston is completely gone. No staff, no consultants, not even a physical office. Nicholas Negroponte long ago moved onto the global literacy X-Prize project." A response from OLPC says their mission is "far from over." They add, "OLPC also has outsourced many of the software and development units because the organization is becoming more hardware and OS agnostic, concentrating on its core values – education."
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Is One Laptop Per Child Winding Down?

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  • Re:Winding down? (Score:5, Informative)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @05:23PM (#46468597)

    Initially, yes. Go with the least expensive hardware possible and a tiny Linux installation and get them out to people who can learn from them.

    Getting that hardware price-point was difficult. But they got close.

    Then they decided that it needed to run some form of Windows.

    The End.

  • Re:Winding down? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LinuxIsGarbage (1658307) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:48PM (#46469237)

    Then they decided that it needed to run some form of Windows.

    The End.

    OLPC didn't decide it needed to run some form of Windows... Microsoft decided it needed some form of Windows. To not be left out, Microsoft ported WindowsXP. All OLPC did to support that was made sure OpenFirmWare would boot Windows (and subsequently standard Linux distros) to prevent Microsoft from completely overwriting the firmware with standard BIOS code preventing Sugar from booting ever again. http://lists.laptop.org/piperm... [laptop.org] OLPC still pushed for Linux / Sugar. All the stories I read were about the Sugar installs. Microsoft also pushed the Classmate to be a Windows platform.

    Although OLPC had great intentions I feel there were several problems:
    -Sugar was ridiculously slow. I know it's running on a crappy AMD Geode, but it was real slow.

    -Assumption that everyone wants to be a programmer. One of the reasons Sugar is so slow is it's written in Python. Easy to modify, but being an interpreted language, it's slow. How high a priority is being able to modify the OS's GUI?

    -Poor selection of apps. Poor selection of actual learning materials. Instead there's a million "learn to program" type apps, and some crappy games. Yes I think accessibility of learning to program is good, and lots of people on /. will talk about how hacking away on Basic on an Apple //, or POKE on C64 at their school got them into CompSci, you really are the minority. With the amount of money being spent on the things, they better really help with the basics of education (3 R's) first.

    -Poor support of the deployments. In many cases it seemed they were dropped off, and it was up to the teachers to figure out. These are teachers not very familiar with computers, so what are they supposed to do with them?

    -The platform doesn't age well with the students. Sugar is really targeted for young elementary students. I think if it was designed to have access to a standard Linux desktop (Xfce maybe? I think that's the one that hasn't gone to crap like KDE, Gnome, Unity and will run well on old junk) it would be good for older students, as well as opening up the platform to a lot more applications and resources. XO-1.5 at least was designed to dual boot Sugar and Fedora 11.

    -Trying to be too much: Ground up building a new GUI, ground up building a new boot mechanism (OFW), wandering goal (XO-1, XO-1.5, XO-1.75, XO-2, XO-3, XO-4), means they're not dedicated to supporting a certain platform for a longer period of time. With the amount of money these poor countries are spending on it, it should be a solid supported platform for a while.

    Really I find a lot of these problems are shared with conventional technology platforms in education. At some point TV was going to be the be all and end all to education. Nope. Growing up my school had Apple //, Mac Classic, iMac, and eventually Windows PCs. Still questionable how much they added to the educational experience. I remember playing games and typing tutor on the Apple //, but there were three of them in the back of a class of 20 students. Although I could use a word processor / Spreadsheet programs (as a commonly toted example of why computers in school are important), it wasn't till University, or later "Real world" / workplace that I learned proper way of doing things (such as styles). At the very least in developing countries any push for computers (OLPC, Tablets, etc) should be a good ebook reader first, with tons of "open textbooks" / lesson plans, but I didn't see that materialize in OLPC.

    In the developed world I see it continue. Look at the amount of schools spending ridiculous amounts of money on either laptops for each child, or tablets for each child. Do they actually do anything? In my Junior/Senior year in University there were students that did their Freshman/Sophmore year at a collage that re

  • OLPC vs EEPC (Score:5, Informative)

    by careysub (976506) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @07:54PM (#46469645)

    I bought one of the OLPCs (actually two, as part of the "give one get one" charity program) for my daughter who was in the target age group at the time - and shortly thereafter I also bought an EEPC running Linux. The result - user acceptance of the EEPC blew the OLPC into the weeds. The OLPC was on minor novelty value, and that was all. The Atom processor on the EEPC smoked the Geode of course, and the native apps has far better performance of course than the Python programs on the OLPC, but the real kicker was this: the EEPC let my daughter do thins she actually wanted to do! What a concept!

    It is sad to such a significant amount of money and creativity being poured into a such a "broken by design" project. You pick the slowest processor out there (since low power consumption was apparently a pre-eminent goal of the project). But then you put very inefficient software on it. And it is not even a good app suite!

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