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Virtual Sugar
olpc : by Tommy - July 29th 2007, 012:05AM
This one was just too cool to wait. For those of you that know, I'm quite pumped about the One Laptop Per Child initiative.

I've written about it in the past, as I write this I have a couple of links in the shoutbox. The most notable one is that prospect that the XO laptop will be commercially available for Christmas 2007. By who? How much? Nobody knows. I do know that I want one.

The XO Laptop uses a custom-rolled distribution of the GNU/Linux system with an overlay known as Sugar. Although Sugar is specialized for the XO hardware, you can install it over a linux setup, or try out a pre-configured virtual machine image (if you use VMware Player or the like). There's even a walk-thru to get you acquainted with Sugar's interface. It took me all of about a minute to point and click my way around before even looking for a guide.

UneasySilence has the links to the files needed to run an image of Sugar.

+ Greg Gober
  Aug 13, 2007 15:15
OLPC seems to be assuming that all children will want to use their machine and the interface they've developed. Thats a huge freakin assumption.

The majority of children outside the US dont sit around staring at a screen all day, its insane to assume that children from an underdeveloped country will understand the importance or usefulness of the machine.


--- Tommy G.
  Aug 14, 2007 00:12
Well, the push is to give them the ability to educate themselves. To give them access to the information on the web.

Ideally, it would allow children to research when the best time to plant/harvest is; read weather forecasts; and share information with friends. These tangible learning benefits will hopefully plant the seeds to begin the self-education available online. It's a powerful tool that these people in developing countries otherwise will never have a chance to enjoy. It might be hard to assume all children will use them, but then again not all PC users use their computers to better their lives - but the opportunity is there.

It's a social experiment.

+ Tyler F.
  Aug 14, 2007 22:06
While it may be a social experiment, I tend to think it's a little ill-conceived. PCs aren't really what these people need. PCs break, and pretty easily, especially in such rugged environs. What they need are medical supplies and illustrated farming manuals. I just don't see the illiterate peoples in the deep desserts of Africa being able to effectively use the OLPC, despite it's heavily graphical nature.

But Kudos to those guys (and now you) for trying to do something. That's much more than most people can say.


--- Tommy G.
  Aug 14, 2007 22:37
First of all, hello from my OLPC emulator.
Secondly, take a look at the hardware, for its size it's really robust and sturdy. It was designed from the ground up specifically for this project. It's sand, dust, water and other-wise child proof.

The goal of OLPC isn't to alleviate poverty or deliver a panacea. It is meant merely to allow school-aged children a chance to "learn learning" and realize that they can educate themselves just like all the other kids on earth. The goal of OLPC isn't to make IT workers out of the millions of kids around the world, but to at least give them a chance at self-empowerment. Negroponte never said the XO would be a substitute for food, water and building supplies - these are vital. Medical care, skilled educators and financial aid are still needed. This is just an escape for an otherwise seemingly dead-end existence for many kids. It won't stamp out poverty or heal the masses, but it will give opportunites to kids that aren't there.

If the OLPC movement doesn't reach its goal through the XO, it at least has got the world thinking and at least got the ball moving.

+ Tyler F.
  Aug 14, 2007 23:19
I realize that OLPC isn't trying to feed the starving, etc. I'm just saying that more important than a PC would be more, well, utilitarian.

Like I said, kudos for getting people thinking, and trying to make a difference, I just kinda see this one as being a little misguided; but not in any way an effort for the worse of anyone.


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