[support-gang] [sugar] Microsoft

Seth Woodworth seth at isforinsects.com
Thu May 15 21:11:48 EDT 2008

> He's not declaring a policy of ethical inaction.  He made an
> announcement called "Microsoft" wherein he describes an OLPC-supported
> firmware modification that will allow Windows to boot on the XO-1.  He
> p it to an OLPC mailing list.  He then claimed no OLPC resources would
> be devoted to the project.  I'm left wondering how many of those
> resources went into this firmware mod.

No OLPC resources would be involved in porting Sugar to Windows.  So his
statement was true, if a bit misleading.

> If XO sales are so unrestricted, why can't I buy one at laptop.org?

Are you willing to buy 100 or more?

> > Will this still give us the chance to put great hardware and content into
> > the hands of children all over the world?  Yes.
> Hardware is useless without control.  Remember when this was an
> education project?  Where'd all *that* rhetoric go?  In this country,
> we complain about vendor lock-in -- on everything from terrible ISO
> standards (remember who was behind subverting THAT open process) to
> our mobile phones.  But this isn't some abstract problem that prevents
> us from using Google Maps on our Blackberries.  These kids don't
> *have* anything else, and we should not hand control of their
> education over to *any* for-profit company.  In fact, we should
> *actively oppose* the idea.

Be realisitic.  Our software isn't customizable beyond a hypothetical.  We
offer no man pages, no GCC, no source on board, and no training on how to
use program.  Before we can make the argument of being more customizeable we
need to actually document how to change things and supply such information
on the XO.

A Kindle can still allow you to read a book.  Is closed source as useful as
open source?  No.  Is DRM a good thing for children in the third workd?
No.  But is a calculator better than nothing?  Yes.  Keep that in mind.

> > But Linux and FOSS can't triumph over Microsoft by excluding them and by
> > obfusication.  We need to make a better product.
> I don't care who triumphs over whom.  I did not donate to the OLPC
> foundation to fund a market-assault vector for a convicted monopolist.

I'm not clear how much OLPC is benefitting from this deal, other than
laptops sold.

You make a good point.  A large fraction of the OLPC community is going to
see this as a sellout to microsoft.  And as completely changing the goals of
the project.  A lot of developers are going to leave the project, and a lot
of the community is going to leave because they care as much about FOSS in
education as Laptops in Education.  And that's not a bad belief.  Open
materials and tools are greatly superior to closed ones.

> > 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.  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.
> Sugar can't beat out Windows if it's busy running on top of Windows.

I wholeheartedly believe that Sugar on a FOSS stack will preform better than
Sugar on a Windows stack.  And I think that this development community can
prove that.  Now, that proof may well happen at sugarlabs and possibly even
on different hardware.  I think that it is fairly safe to say that Sugarlabs
isn't going to be spending a lot of time porting sugar to windows.

> "Additionally, the Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu software environments run
> on the XO-1, adding support for tens of thousands of free software
> applications."
> I am terrified at the thought that the rest of this press release
> might be anywhere near as disingenuous as this statement.

It sounds like typical marketing doublethink. The people and community of
OLPC that I have worked with have been very open and truthful like a FREE
AND OPEN project should be.  NN however neglests to really have a dialog
with the community.  There is a big disconnect between the CEO and the
community that supports it.  This isn't how Ubuntu and Mark Shuttleworth

> However, the software we have is not ready to go against competition
> from Microsoft, especially with untapped emerging markets on the line.
>  You can't fight a corporation by turning the other cheek -- much less
> by giving them a key to your house.

Let's also remember that the OLPC project was orignally planned to be open
hardware as well.  If that had happened, as it should, we would be in the
same boat now.

Sugar on a free stack has to beat windows by it's quality.  This is my goal
and this is my belief.
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