XP on OLPC - a contrarian view

Sameer Verma sverma at sfsu.edu
Sat May 17 02:24:59 EDT 2008

Albert Cahalan wrote:
> Robert Myers writes:
>> The folks that are buying them, Ministries of Education, governments,
>> charities all have their own agendas. They do not necessarily line up
>> with the agendas of our real customers - children and educators, or our
>> own. If we have to give them some of what they want, so that we can get
>> some of what we want to to the children, it's a fact of life.
>> Selling constructionism is hard. The theory is attractive, but the data
>> is _not_ compelling. The buyers are probably not convinced going in that
>> it's something they want or need. OLPC would probably have an easier
>> time selling $100 Apple ][ clones with drill and practice software than
>> the XO as it stands. If the buyers demand a machine that can run
>> Windows, tell them that the XO can run Windows.
> You don't need computers for constructionism. If pushing educational
> theories of questionable value is your thing, spending $0 on a laptop
> is the obvious solution for you.
> Seriously, forget the laptop. You don't need it.
> I'd rather give the gift of software freedom. Unlike your theories,
> software isn't much good without hardware. XP is of no help at all.
> Because of network effects (economic theory, not computer networks),
> shipping XP (rather than nothing) is a net loss.
>> The buyer gets to tick Windows off his must have list. OLPC sells a
>> machine with XP on a card, a crippled and storage limited XP that still
>> doesn't run current first world productivity applications well. XOs get
>> out, still loaded with Sugar. Children get them. OLPC gets revenue that
>> can help its educational mission. What have we lost but some innocence?
> Watch the video. XP boots fast, 

What does a fast boot up have to do with the overall usability and
productivity of a system? You can always show a boot screen early in the
process and say its boots fast. Its not so much the boot speed that
bothers me, but the impression it creates that if it boots fast, it must
be fast overall.

> handles video very nicely,
> runs Microsoft Office just fine (spreadsheet!), and in general
> looks to be highly usable.

What bothered me most about the video is that it was all XP and no
Sugar. Yes, we have yet another OS. Where's Sugar? If we are comparing
OS only, how does Xubuntu stack up against XP's performance on the XO?
The other thing that was strange was that when he captures video, the
camera light did not come on. Isn't the camera wired in series with the
LED? If that's the case then the LED should be on...or the video was
edited post production.

> http://mediadl.microsoft.com/MediaDL/WWW/U/unlimitedpotential/WindowsXP_XOLaptop.wmv
> (works OK in mplayer)
> Don't bet for a moment that Linux will get to stay. That is
> simply not how Microsoft operates.

Based on my impression from the video clip, its all talk about XP,
Office, etc. and native XP apps, so at this point, I would be surprised
if Sugar ships at all.


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