[support-gang] [sugar] Microsoft

Steve Holton sph0lt0n at gmail.com
Thu May 15 20:34:24 EDT 2008

On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 8:03 PM, Seth Woodworth <seth at isforinsects.com>

> Let's look at this with a slightly different lens before we blow up on NN
> and Microsoft.
> What does this agreement equate to?  And what are the alternatives to
> Microsoft?
> If the XO was running a completely closed source stack with no
> documentation on hardware, how would the Linux community feel?  They would
> feel that they were being shut out and not allowed to run whatever software
> they wanted to or develop.  This is something the linux community has
> speared hardware companies over for years.

...and to which the free software (linux) community would respond with a
reverse engineering effort, at it's own (collective) expense, and rather
quickly have a solution.  If turnabout is fair play, let Microsoft adopt the
free software community response as well.

(When Cisco modified their WRT54G hardware so that Linux could no longer
run, the response was to strip-down the gnu/linux stack even more until it
would run again.)

It's doubtful the free software community would do what Microsoft is
demanding: asking the manufacturer to add 5-10% to the cost of the hardware
to facilitate their efforts, nor would the free software community charge a
$3.00 license fee for the use thereafter.

If you're going to paint us all with the same brush, at least use the same
paint, too.

So as a fair practice I think it's clear that no special actions can
> ethically be made to prevent Windows or any other OS from running on the
> machine.  So a Windows port for the XO isn't something that could have been
> preventative.

Agree. But that's not what is being proposed. The agreement clearly includes
a modification of the original principles (minimum cost for the devices) to
provide a Microsoft handicap in this game. I would not call that "fair

> Furthermore OLPC's sale of the XO hardware doesn't come with any
> restrictions for use.  To not allow countries to install windows once they
> take ownership would be a completely unethical move given OLPC's commitments
> to freedom.

OLPC has NEVER made any mention of preventing anyone (with a developer key)
from installing whatever software they wanted to install on the XO, (which
cannot be said of all computer system manufacturers
cough*cough*XBOX*cough*cough) That's not what's being discussed here.
Negroponte is taking proactive action to create a more favorable environment
for Microsoft. Is OLPC making the same offer to Ubuntu?  Debian?  What about
Red Hat?

>From scuttlebut about this deal and the way that I understand it, it's the
> equivalent of OLPC/Quanta selling the machines to Microsoft and they doing
> whatever they want with them.  I'm not as clear on this point, but is there
> an ethical problem with selling the machine to Microsoft?

Not at all. The problem appears to be that Microsoft is asking/demanding
that the OLPC principles be modified in deference to Microsoft.

> Could OLPC ethically Not sell the machine to whoever wanted to buy them in
> large volumes?  We must remember that hardware companies have invested a
> good deal of money on the expectation that they can at best break even on
> the XO production.  They haven't reached nearly the levels of machines sold
> to satisfy these manufacturors.

The hardware manufacturers are not loosing as much on the per-unit sales of
these devices as they are gaining from the non-profit funded research and
development which went into producing them. I was under the impression the
hardware manufacturers weren't loosing anything on the per-unit sales.

> Do I want to see Windows on the XO?  No, never, and god I hope not.  Will
> Microsoft end up screwing us?  Likely, given their history.

It will not happen unless OLPC facilitates it. They appear to be doing just
so. And doing so  in part with the time and money I donated to the cause.

I don't like to get angry, but....

> Will this still give us the chance to put great hardware and content into
> the hands of children all over the world?  Yes.

Nope. It's over.

> But Linux and FOSS can't triumph over Microsoft by excluding them and by
> obfusication.  We need to make a better product.

I think you are under the impression that the 'education project' has been
somehow hindered by efforts aimed at *preventing* Microsoft from
contributing. I do not see that as the case. Speaking as one of those 'free
software fundamentalists", I can say I long ago wrote-off Microsoft and
pretty much ignore what they choose to do. (They know it, and that
dismissiveness is one of the things that keeps Microsoft up at night.)

If Microsoft wants to shape up and join the future, only their shareholders
will complain.
That's not what's being discussed.
Microsoft is begging the OLPC non-profit to make their job (of getting their
software to run on the XO) easier, at the expense of the 'educational
project' goals.

(Oh wait, I forgot, this is a laptop project, isn't it?)

> With Walter Bender on his own and dedicated to bringing Sugar to every
> machine on a FOSS stack, and all OLPC produced software being safely GPL'ed,
> I feel confident that Sugar can beat out Windows.

Of course. Sugar is not dead, just OLPC.  That's why the fork occurred.

Let's focus on getting sugar and linux and what we *can* do instead of being
> angry.  I plan on staying and producing content, translations and
> improvements for OLPC and for children.
> http://wiki.sugarlabs.org
> Seth Woodworth
> On Thu, May 15, 2008 at 4:27 PM, Asheesh Laroia <
> asheesh at creativecommons.org> wrote:
>> On Thu, 15 May 2008, Nicholas Negroponte wrote:
>> > One Laptop per Child is announcing an agreement with Microsoft
>> > to make a dual boot, Linux/Windows, version of the XO laptop. In
>> > addition, our intention is to engage one or more third parties to port
>> Sugar to
>> > run on Windows in order to reach a wider installed base of laptops. In
>> the
>> > meanwhile, OLPC remains fully committed to our goal: a completely free
>> > and open learning platform for the world's children. The mission
>> > statement of OLPC has not changed in three years (attached).
>> My copy of this mail (as available at
>> http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/sugar/2008-May/005752.html ) does not
>> have the attachment of the mission statement.
>> -- Asheesh.
>> --
>> Absolutum obsoletum.  (If it works, it's out of date.)
>>                -- Stafford Beer
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Steve Holton
sph0lt0n at gmail.com
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