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

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 clang_jangle ( 975789 ) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @07:55PM (#24353245) Journal
    I thought MS was determined to kill XP, so what point are they trying to make showing how well it can run on the XO? I find this a bit confusing, like MS is talking out both sides of their mouth or something. Are they really going to stop selling XP as they keep claiming, or are they going to build a "new" windows netbook edtion based on XP, or are they just going to keep offering XP alongside Vista? Seems to me either the second or third options would be the most realistic, but they keep saying the opposite. What gives, MS? TFA also links to a blog containing a claim of an XP RTM for the Intel Classmate []
    • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <`billposer' `at' `'> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:17PM (#24353441) Homepage

      Well, if I put my tin-foil hat on, I figure that Microsoft hopes to make the OLPC dependent on XP. With XP no longer available anywhere else, people who really want it will have to get it from OLPCs, rendering them unusable. In this way, MS will satisfy customers who really want XP, while destroying the OLPC.

      • by twitter ( 104583 ) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:37PM (#24353587) Homepage Journal

        Despite all the shortfalls mentioned, M$ marketing will tell you that XP is better than that toy OS but XP is all you can run on toy hardware and be able to do "real work". If you want to do real work right, they will tell you to buy Intel's latest and cripple it with Vista. I know, that has nothing to do with reality but that's what they will tell you.

        When it comes to education, they will point to piles and piles of really awful "educational" software available for XP that will soon be ported to Vista. Or they will do what they did here and act like XP + Office and a thumb drive for "sharing" is all you need. Who knows, as the article pointed out, none of it will work once you put in AV and viruses eat it anyway. The sad fact is that XO and Sugar met a real need in a way that M$ can't, but M$ is going to bribe and lie until XO is destroyed.

        • "educational" software available for XP that will soon be ported to Vista

          Isn't the big lock-in idea that you don't have to *port* anything forward? What's the point of Vista if it won't run your existing apps?

          Otherwise, port it to a real operating system :)

    • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:24PM (#24353501) Homepage Journal

      I thought MS was determined to kill XP, so what point are they trying to make showing how well it can run on the XO?

      They were. Then they realized that Linux would eat their lunch on the OLPC and they knew that Vista boot times on an OLPC would be geologic... if it could run on the machine at all.

      Basically, Microsoft got caught with their crappy product being wholly incapable of supporting a new market that was emerging. XP would get a reprieve from this death sentence only to prevent Microsoft from (rightly) looking incapable of supporting low-end hardware. Basically, the cold hard reality of Vista's bloat is too big for even Microsoft to ignore.

      Hopefully more and more people will realize that Microsoft hasn't done anything useful since XP was released, except for fixes to XP.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MathFox ( 686808 )
        It is not just the OLPC, there are many manufacturers making sub-notebooks (think EeePC), that run Linux nicely, but have not the power to run Vista. Microsoft could have just given this market to Linux... but that would have been "defeat".
        So spin spin spin, Microsoft allows OEM sales of XP for small laptops... while other manufacturers hear that XP can not be sold anymore...
    • by Drakonik ( 1193977 ) <> on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:29PM (#24353543) Homepage

      Have you ever tried to talk out of ONE side of your mouth? Nobody can understand you.

    • by stavros-59 ( 1102263 ) * on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:37PM (#24353583)
      Microsoft really don't get the point of the OLPC. They've missed the market for mini laptops and only have Windows XP to offer that market. Shoehorning a kludgy XP and Office, antivirus and protection onto the OLPC makes it a far less useful product.

      They are doing the same thing to the EEEPC.

      Microsoft's Plans for the distribution of EEEPCs in India []
    • 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.

      • Keep modding me down for being correct. You dont have to like the truth... how about spending the mod points on the GP instead - it's not like this hasnt been covered on /. enough.

        Gotta love /. - glad I have karma to burn...

      • Many points here that I could debate on end, but I'm not really in the mood, so I'll leave those.
        I do however have a question. You said:

        It's the same reason why Win3.1 sales in similar vertical markets is just ending now.

        Can you point me to such a vertical market? I haven't seen 3.1 in a LONG time. "NT Embedded", yes... "3.1", no.
        (not saying you're lying, I'm actually just genuinely interested if there's a hole in my knowledge somewhere

        • Microsoft seems to think there still was one and needed to kill it. See the post below. Here's the link even (or search /. for the topic that discusses it - you'll find info on what it is used for there):

        • Here's an article. A correction to note: my post should have said WfWG3.11 (Windows for Workgroups). Some items to note... MS is still selling it till Nov 2008. The announcement was made June 2008.

          Now... where is it still used? Notta clue... but there are people who commented to that article pointing out places it is still used (some they work at, some they just know about), and it includes some embedded uses. Here's on

      • Microsoft still "maintains" and sells their older operating systems for a variety of other needs, such as embedded devices, low power devices, etc.

        Indeed. For example, did you know that last November, Microsoft announced that it will stop selling and supporting Windows 3.1 to embedded device manufacturers. Which means that it was sold/supported before that, and apprarently there were customers. Go figure.

    • Same plan as always.. Try to take over the world.

      Get Microsoft products on anything that can come close to running them. CE/XP/Vista, it doesn't matter so long as it is a Microsoft product. Microsoft would love to kill XP, but they can't get Vista to run on the available hardware, so they either allow some other product to take the place of Windows, or they keep XP around for sub normal specifications, and limit the markets it can be sold in so that they don't damage the Vista and later the 7 markets. If so

    • like MS is talking out both sides of their mouth or something
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:23PM (#24353489)

    OK, so I'm a Linux fanboy. I don't find tfa the least bit sad.

    • It's sad the same way a car crash is sad. Even if the car crash comprised of jerks and sellouts. It's hard not to stare... with a smile. Because it's sad.
  • 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.

    • by Flavio ( 12072 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:45PM (#24353637)

      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.

      The point of comparing Sugar to XP is to demonstrate what most of us predicted -- i.e., that XP is completely unsuitable for this application.

      Having XP in the marketplace annoys me, but my irritation is limited because people have alternatives. A child who gets XP preinstalled on the XO will probably have no alternative and will be left with an inferior product. I hope reviewers keep denouncing Microsoft's involvement with the XO, because no good can come of it.

      • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @10:02PM (#24354205) Homepage Journal

        The point of comparing Sugar to XP is to demonstrate what most of us predicted -- i.e., that XP is completely unsuitable for this application.

        And that, believe it or not, is actually good news.

        People want Windows on the XO because they think that kids need "practical" tools, like Microsoft Office, so they can develop "marketable" skills. Which is nonsense. There aren't that many jobs for people with those kinds of skills, especially not in rural villages in the developing world. Kids in those places need learning tools that help them build their knowledge and skill base on their own.

        So Windows on the XO is unworkable. Great. Now the OLPC people can get back to doing something more useful than producing yet another Wintel clone.

        • What amazes me is that nobody at the OLPC seems to be even thinking this through. You are putting WinXP,which can be hijacked in no time flat if it isn't running AV,anti-malware,firewall,and patched up(and the patches can take up a TON of space). Since we know that a machine with specs as low as the OLPC can't run all those,not unless they run something ultra stripped like "XP Beast Edition" to make room for the extra software and to cut down on the avenues of attack,which of course MSFT isn't about to give them, we can assume that it will be no time at all until the XP OLPCs will be hijacked.

          As someone who fixes Windows machines for a living I can tell you that no matter how much RAM and CPU you have the average virus or malware is going to thrash the hell out of the drive,that is just the nature of the beast. Since the OLPC uses SSD for storage the XP machines will burn through the write cycles pretty damned fast once they get pwned. And unless they are planning to give out read only flash drives containing the OS I'm guessing the hacked together version of XP they are getting is going to be a royal PITA to reinstall once it burns up the SSD. So they are going to end up with a bunch of dead OLPCs,and since we are talking third world and I doubt they have crates of SSDs to replace all the burnt ones from viruses, the OLPC goes from being a tool for schoolkids to learn with to just another piece of dead Windows junk.

          Maybe when the OLPC goes out of business someone will buy the fab and the design and sell them to everyone so the economies of scale will kick in and we can all have cheap Linux Netbooks. Because going with XP on the OLPC seems to me to be a recipe for failure.

          • (Sugar says.)

            Run over to the sugar and other OLPC mailing lists, if you're worried that somebody has killed sugar off.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

              Who said anything about Sugar? The article may have called it Linux/Sugar,but the Sugar interface was not the big deal about OLPC IMHO,it was Linux. In fact,after reading on some of the major problems with Sugar,like the temp file bug,I wonder if they wouldn't have been better off going with either Edubuntu or the EEE Xandros. Either one could have been made VERY kid friendly with very little work instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with Sugar.

              I also think that the management of OLPC,first by not sellin

              • 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.

        • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @02:24AM (#24355807)
          Obviously, you have not been to rural Africa! Ability to use MS Word is a highly marketable skill there.

          Since a high proportion of the adults are functionally illiterate, they need to employ someone else to write for them. This applies most especially to those who control the money and power - and in the best position to pay for your services.

          Furthermore, if you have plans to go to the big city and get a job with the government (who have stolen most of the money from the people), you will need a good working knowledge of MS Word to construct a credible CV.

          Your post should be modded "-1 Rubbish"

          • Having as many copies of Word as you can carry is not much use if you cannot write in the first place.

            Education comes first. Being sold an expensive software product, way down there at the bottom of the 'things Africans need' list.

            so first get a teaching tool [] to the chidren, and teach them to read and write. Then they can buy their own copies of Word when they're older.

          • Terminal, nano.

            Or if you prefer a gui, x11 + (nedit || gedit || kate || ....)

            If you need an office suite, OpenOffice works as well. And there's always LaTeX....

          • by PPH ( 736903 )

            I've found that getting computer illiterate people familiar with basic concepts is the biggest leap. Once they are comfortable with a keyboard, mouse, file storage, etc. differences between O/Ss and applications are easily handled.

            A dual boot system would go even further toward teaching theory vs rote learning.

      • The point of comparing Sugar to XP is to demonstrate what most of us predicted -- i.e., that XP is completely unsuitable for this application.

        Exactly -- It seems... obvious? But the pushback (slashdotters in favor of Windows over Linux? Is it Opposite Day??) is pretty amazing. Sugar is built to be an educational tool; XP was built to be a business tool. There are many, many great arguments why XP is a bad idea for the OLPC XO; but they are often lost on people. TFA is just trying to do a straight, point-by-point comparison to show how bad XP really is as a replacement for Sugar.

    • One of these two OS environments was designed to be on a XO and one wasn't. That's why they're being compared - and why the comparison is valid.

    • 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.

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      I think that is sorta the point. What is "needed" on the OLPC and XO is something simple that someone with not experience, and limited reading skills, a child in the developing world for example is something like sugar.

      If you are trying to decide to ship Windows XP or Linux with Sugar on top, it might be useful to compare them from the point of view of the target user. Also Sugar is just the shell, the linux based operationg system its running on is still a "versatile monster trying to offer all things to

  • by magsk ( 1316183 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @08:47PM (#24353649)
    Firstly let me just say I purchased my olpc to use while I travel to third world countries and off the grid (as mot of them are), I like the olpc for its battery life its ability to be recharged without an outlet, and most of all its ruggedness. Now while I understand that xp is a great operating system and modern. I must say that I would be thrilled to use windows 98' on my olpc. . For a few reasons... 1)Suger is very boring, its like using a graphing calculator. 2) I would prefer to use word 97 and excel, along with IE (or ideally firefox, but beggars be choosers) 3) I am more familiar with windows and do believe that my ability to connect to other computers and receive files will be much more successful than using sugar. 4) hopefully will not need to load from SD card Let me finish by saying I know what the olpc was made for, but as someone who did the whole give 1 get 1 because they genuinely appreciate the innovations of the laptop I am an adult and do use it for work.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nawcom ( 941663 )

      Note that this is only an outside opinion, but your whole paragraph equates to someone being served a a nice wet-n-sloppy dog-shit sandwich, and quickly getting back in line for seconds. Though myself a unix dev, I'm sure any Windows user would prefer Windows 2000 to a horribly coded frontend to DOS. Hell, I still use 2000 (either Windows 2000 or Windows FLP []) on a VM in OS X, *BSD, or Linux.

      What am I saying? You would like Win2000/WinFLP more, since it's up-to-date and doesn't require heavy memory. But me t

      • Windows 98 will run smoothly on much lower hardware specifications than Windows 2000, and it also takes much less space. Granted you're not going to want to use it without a firewall, you'll have to reboot it regularly, and even thinking about the internet with it's IE would be a disaster. But yes, 98 with a firewall and Opera would be much faster on the OLPC than 2000, and it would be otherwise functionally identical for most purposes.

  • Biased Write (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The author of the article was clearly biased in his opinion. I won't take a position in the matter, but the author doing so made the facts more difficult to grasp when reading the article.

  • by AlgorithMan ( 937244 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:31PM (#24353945) Homepage
    god, that article is crap! first of all he compares his XO to A VIDEO!? wtf!?
    • i read the conclusion first (which i always do, to save reading time, since usually everything else is just explanations on why the conclusion is the way it is) but the conclusion basically says "sugar encourages learning, windows wants to be idiot-proof"
    • so after the conclusion was useless i wondered how the mentioned battery-life comparison went out - but that section says "Microsoft claims 20 hours of battery life while watching movies - and I didn't really test, how long it runs with sugar"... great comparison, really - comparing a marketing statement (yes, with our cars we all get as far on one fuel filling as the commercials tell us...) to nothing!?
    • recording audio is easier to find in sugar, as is video recording (well, you don't get options on quality-vs-size, but who cares about disk space, right? everyone has 1tb nowadays, right? the XO has 3-5 gb online storage - not much and slow...)
    • then he rants about how horrible sharing files is on windows-XO - you have to pass around a data storage medium - OMG!... oh btw it's the same thing with sugar, unless you have a file-server nearby...
    • wifi probably might be shitty on windows - although they barely sayd anything in the video about that... but windows sucks anyways...
    • security will be an issue, because kids might believe lies... anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-malware, anti-phishing will eat up battery life and performance

    now i really hate microsoft and wish them all the worst, but this article is just plain ridiculous! nothing to see here, move along!

    • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @10:06PM (#24354231) Homepage

      Well a video is all Microsoft has provided, while doing their best to push their operating system onto the XO. And a video is likely all they are using to convince people that Windows XP is the only thing that can make the XO work. I guess the author could have waited for an actual working instance of XP on the XO. But there is no reason to be confident that such will ever come to past. In the meantime, just being to claim that XP on the XO is better is all Microsoft need to achieve their assumed goals.

      I personally use Linux as my OS of choice, however, I think that any operating system that can meet the technical requirements AND meet the "open" (as in open software) requirement would be a good choice for the XO. Assuming that the XO works, someday locals could be writing their own software, and customizing and maintaining the operating system and desktop environment. Unless things change radically in the future, this is an impossibility with Windows XP -- ie. owners of Windows XP on XO, regardless of geography, will be forever dependent on Microsoft.

  • Ubuntu on the XO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by P3Ed ( 631257 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:36PM (#24354003)
    I had to pry my wife's XO out of her lap to post this. Sugar may be good for kids & education or not, but I found it to come up short. Ubuntu on the XO works well, even plays SD video recorded on Myth TV with out stuttering. It's damn hard to type on this little keyboard.
  • OLPC is Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by awitod ( 453754 ) on Saturday July 26, 2008 @09:50PM (#24354119)

    They should have extended the BOGO (buy one get one) promotion or made it possible for people in the developed world to buy one. As it is, noone can develop software for it, because, near as I can tell, you can't buy one.

    So, of course, TFA is based on a video. The OLPC is resigned to a third world ghetto and will eventually fade into obscurity, which is a shame.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MacTO ( 1161105 )

      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 al

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grumbel ( 592662 )

      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 [] over which one can get a device.

  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Sunday July 27, 2008 @02:51AM (#24355913) Journal

    MS announce XP on XO.

    Slashdot goes "Pics or it never happened!"

    MS provide screen shots.

    Slashdot goes "screenshots can be faked - video or it never happened!"

    MS provide video.

    Slashdot goes "Whatever, it never happened!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dhasenan ( 758719 )

      It may be that the videos are not faked. Still, if they were not, I would like to replace my workstation (Core 2 Duo with 3GB RAM) with an OLPC laptop, since it seems to run so much faster.

  • "Sugar and other Linux versions on the XO do take longer to boot; but once the suspend and hibernation features are completely working (and the current Update.1 Release Candidate has most of it working)"

    How many years will pass until Linux gets suspend and hibernate right?
    • by griffjon ( 14945 )

      How many years will pass until Linux gets suspend and hibernate right?

      How many years will pass until Windows gets suspend and hibernate right?

      Fixed that for you.

      Actually suspend is 95% on Update.1, and I hear it's even better on the joyride builds.

    • How many years will pass until Linux gets suspend and hibernate right?

      If you are at all actually interested in the answer to this question, look into ACPI. The Wikipedia article [] notes that MS was one of the companies that helped draft the standard. The Criticism [] subsection is also informative about some of the problems with the standard. There are also numerous [] other [] examples [] of how Microsoft has been quite deliberately poisoning the ACPI well. Slasdot user leoxx posted a comment [] the other day in the Fo

  • Now all the kids in countries where they have had decades of war can play Minesweeper.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.