OLPC chairman warms to Windows

The chairman of the One Laptop Per Child foundation has admitted the organisation needs to become more “pragmatic” with regards to the technology underpinning its low-cost laptop.

OLPC chairman warms to Windows

XO runs the Linux-based Fedora operating system with an OLPC developed interface called Sugar, designed to be easy to use by children in developing countries. Recent reports hinted Negroponte was willing to ditch Sugar for XP in order to speed adoption, however, in an emailed statement Negroponte has reaffirmed his support for Sugar but argued it needs to become more focused.

“Sugar needs to be disentangled. I keep using the omelette analogy, claiming it needs to be a fried egg, with distinct yoke and white, rather than having the UI, collaborative tools, power management and radios merge into one amorphous blob. Otherwise, it is impossible to debug and will be limited to the small, albeit growing, world of the XO hardware platform.”

“Sugar needs a wider basis, to run on more Linux platforms and to run under Windows. We have been engaged in discussions with Microsoft for several months, to explore a dual boot version of the XO. Some of you have seen what Microsoft developed on their own for the XO. It works well and now needs Sugar on top of it (so to speak).”

Quite whether Negroponte envisions Sugar as an application on an XP desktop, or as a replacement user interface is unclear, though it’s doubtful Microsoft would agree to the latter.

However, Negroponte clearly believes there are gains to made in utilising XP’s technology platform, and in an interview with the Associated Press cited the example of Flash, which isn’t currently supported by Sugar but is widely used on children’s educational websites.

“There are several examples like that, that we have to address without worrying about the fundamentalism in some of the open-source community,” he tells the Associated Press. “One can be an open-source advocate without being an open-source fundamentalist.”

The OLPC chairman also revealed that a dual-boot XO running Fedora/Sugar and XP would be making an appearance soon.

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