Friday, April 25, 2008

OLPC may switch to Windows?

I read a news today on OLPC's XO notebook may use Windows. Is using Windows easier for both vendor and consumer?

Basically OLPC project is not very successful until now, because it was not able to deliver a good product for mass production, is still far far away from Nicholas Negroponte's dream, a USD100 notebook for the developing country. OLPC project is a great dream, to achieve it, is never been easy.

OLPC notebook should be portable, WiFi enable, low power consumption and is cheap, target price is USD100 for a notebook. Currently they are selling at USD188. The cost can be lower if you get the right vendor to manufacture it. Taiwanese can make it cheaper, OEM manufacturer like Asus, Quanta or Foxconn(Hon Hai Precision Industry) is capable to manufacture low cost electronic parts with high quality. Notebooks from Dell and HP, Apple's iPod are manufactured by these companies.

People can't wait to see the dream comes true, even hardware vendor can not wait. Intel can't wait, so Intel start selling Classmate PC, which is a low cost laptop mainly design for education purpose. Asus can't wait, recently Asus launch low cost 7" notebook EeePC 701, is very successful in the market. These companies who is good in hardware design, is going into the sub-notebook market.

OLPC have good hardware design too, OLPC's CTO Mary Lou Jepsen, invented an ultr-low cost display, which is readable under sunlight. Mary left OLPC on January 2008, other top executive in OLPC is leaving as well, like Ivan Krstic and Walter Bender. Walter is a great fan of open source, OLPC sweet talk with Microsoft should be the main reason for his departure.

Forget about the hardware and management, let's talk about software. People always think that Windows are easier to use than Linux, but things change these days. To cut down the cost of OLPC notebook, the free and open source Linux was chosen as the operating system software, Nicholas first in favor of using Red Hat Linux (may be he needs Red Hat's funding), but Red Hat Linux could be far too complicated, so Sugar Linux (base on Red Hat/Fedora) was created for OLPC.

Sugar Linux
Sugar Linux on OLPC's XO-1.
Originally uploaded by karindalziel

Linux are getting easier and easier to use, and there is a lot of choices other than Red Hat. As desktop PC, many of my friends commented that Ubuntu Linux is easier to use compare with Red Hat Linux. Asus EeePC's Linux is another good examples, EeePC's Linux is provided by Xandros. Xandros Linux is base on Corel Linux, acquired from Corel after Corel decided to left Linux market in year 2001. Corel Linux is base on Debian (yes, Ubuntu is base on Debian too). Corel build in an easy to use installer on it, is just as easy as like installing Windows (but too bad that I always encounter problem while installing Corel Linux). The Xandos Linux used in Asus EeePC is a tab base version, simpler and is easy to use.

EeePC Linux
Tab base Xandros Linux on EeePC.
Originally uploaded by Renegade Buddha

Linux is easy to use, if you don't believe, try the Linux on EeePC. OLPC may switch to Windows simply because Microsoft has a better marketing plan and Windows are more popular.

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