Walter leaving and shift to XP.

Edward Cherlin echerlin at
Thu Apr 24 02:00:23 EDT 2008

On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 6:09 PM, Tom Hoffman <tom.hoffman at> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 5:40 PM, Edward Cherlin <echerlin at> wrote:
>  > On Wed, Apr 23, 2008 at 1:27 AM, Torello Querci <torello at> wrote:
> >  >  If is possible to use normal windows application on top Sugar+Windows the
>  >  >  educational project is broken because the developers what need to write a
>  >  >  program (program not activity) write it on windows because in this manner one
>  >  >  PC with windows can run it, and XO "XPzed" too .... so why write code for
>  >  >  sugar? In this scenario Sugar is dead and OLPC became a Laptop organization
>  If Sugar cannot offer any advantages to developers writing
>  applications for children beyond those already offered by Windows XP,
>  it will fail regardless.

It does, though, so it won't. Here are just a few examples.

* We are now working on integrating the formerly separate activities.
Among other things, we will be able to feed sound and other program
output to Measure, and text-to-speech with karaoke-style text coloring
will be available to all activities.

* Sugar provides a standard suite of software functions that can be
built into interactive textbooks.

* Sugar is far easier to localize than other software, and a language
community can do it themselves.

>  >  Sugar would not die, and will not die. If necessary, the community
>  >  will walk away from OLPC to start a new organization, and fork all of
>  >  the software. We would replicate git, Trac, lists, and Pootle, all of
>  >  which are under Free licenses. This has happened many times in the
>  >  FOSS development world. People at OLPC have been there and done that,
>  >  and in several cases gotten the t-shirt.
>  For what it is worth, I think Edward is overstating the likelihood
>  that a fork may be necessary in the future, and understating its
>  potential cost.

I don't think a fork is actually likely. It certainly isn't imminent.
Much depends on Nicholas's attitude to what we are trying to tell him.
If he really thinks that Windows is the way forward, and not Linux,
then I predict that the split will occur, that it will be painful and
somewhat costly, and that it will succeed beyond anybody's current
wildest imagination.

I take all criticism of Sugar in the way that Linus Torvalds took
criticism of his writing a kernel by himself. Who cares, as long as I
am doing what I want to? And then, of course, it turned out that he
wasn't doing it by himself any more. Or the annual criticisms that
Linux will never be ready for prime time because it can't do X.
Hackers took up those challenges every year, and typically made Linux
do X to some extent within a year, and then better and better until
nobody could complain about X any more. Remember when mere mortals
couldn't install Linux? When there were no commercial-grade databases
for Linux? When there was no Unicode support for Linux? How about when
X would never catch on? X has had two major forks since then, and is
doing better than ever. Ask Jim Gettys.

>  The process of porting Sugar to Windows would mostly
>  be made up of writing Windows implementations of relatively low level
>  libraries used by Sugar.  Many of these ports, like GTK, already exist
>  and are relatively mature.  And they're open source.  There is even an
>  extant project to port DBus to Windows already.
>  Forks are expensive and inefficient, and undertaken only when all else
>  fails.  I've read nothing to indicate that might be necessary in the
>  future.  Sugar will always be free software, even if it is sometimes
>  running on unfree software through a compatibility layer.

Yes, Sugar always will be Free Software. That isn't in question. The
question is whether Nicholas Negroponte intends to turn the resources
of OLPC toward Windows development, and away from Linux. If so, a lot
of us are out of here.

>  Given that this would make Sugar accessible to millions of children
>  around the world already using Windows, I can't see how this would be
>  a bad thing.

Sugar is accessible to them now, on Live CD, on CoLinux, and in
emulation. None of these is perfect, but I will argue that any of them
is less work and more value than Sugar on Windows.

> On the other hand, I can't see how either OLPC or
>  Microsoft has much motivation to invest in the port at this point.

Nicholas suggests that he wants OLPC to do port Sugar to Windows. We
haven't gotten a straight answer on this point, so we continue to
press the issue.

Microsoft has spent a lot of money to get XP on the XO, but has no
kind of educational software suite. Office won't amount to much. Most
of what passes for educational software in the proprietary market is
shovelware. What's the selling proposition for XP/XO? Where's the

>  --Tom

Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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