Wanted: Peruvian Folk Heroes.

C. Scott Ananian cscott at cscott.net
Tue May 6 16:50:03 EDT 2008

Peru has ordered over 260,000 OLPC XO-1 laptops.  These machines will
be running Sugar on GNU/Linux.  Forty thousand of these are already in
warehouses in Peru, with Sugar builds 656 or 703 installed.  It's hard
to avoid disappointment when OLPC will not commit to this platform
for all future deployments, but let's concentrate on the present: over
a quarter of a million kids will use Sugar/GNU/Linux.  You can
directly influence their lives!  Your software, documentation, support
expertise, ideas and insights can improve the education of a vast
number of kids.  Many of you already are Peruvian Folk Heroes.  We
need even more.

I'm not trying to convince you that you need to pledge loyalty to OLPC
and not question its decisions.  In fact, we need more non-affiliated
developers and community, and more third-party infrastructure. You
don't have to agree with OLPC's press releases: OLPC seems intent on
making its own mistakes, but someone needs to keep doing the work that
will help the kids regardless.

But why invest in third-party infrastructure when we could just be
reusing OLPC's lists/servers/builds?  Because, in fact, OLPC is badly
resource-starved, and (believe it or not) doesn't actually have good
infrastructure to build on.  Even though OLPC is growing its
software team, it takes time to hire good people, and it will take
more time for them to settle in and be productive.  In the meantime,
the external mailing lists, code trees, build and test infrastructure,
generated API documentation, etc you create will help the core team as
well.  If you set up a healthy external development community for
Sugar/GNU/Linux, your work will directly benefit the folks who sit at 1
Cambridge Center and (despite recent distractions) try to write code to
change the world.

Please continue to rail and rally to get OLPC's leadership back on
track.  But don't let it distract you from the real task, or dissuade
you from pitching in: there are a quarter of a million Peruvian kids
who need your code, documentation, support and ideas.  Few people have
ever had the opportunity to make such a difference to so many.

  -- scott

p.s. In the next two emails, I'll suggest (a) a mechanism for spinning
of 3rd party development and merging back contributions upstream, and
(b) a list of interesting projects you might tackle.

 ( http://cscott.net/ )

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