[sf-lug] OLPC info for the frustrated (Kristian Erik Hermansen)

Sarah Mei sarahmei at gmail.com
Fri Jan 25 14:59:20 PST 2008

Interesting observations!

> Like many, I'd be genuinely unhappy to see malicious proprietary vendors -- including, not
> incidentally, Intel -- undermine the OLPC idea.  But I'd also say that the critical challenge
> for OLPC is not one of technologies but rather support.  Given that OLPC seems to be
> antagonizing those who've voted with their pocketbook for the system and its goals, one
> can but wonder if anyone at OLPC is prepared to understand and react the importance of
> that support challenge...

Two observations here:
1. Fulfillment and support are two very different business operations.
Fulfillment effort is very often underestimated, even by industry
veterans (witness the ongoing Wii shortage). It's not uncommon for an
org to be ready to offer support if they could only get the units into
customer's hands...
2. There is no other machine even under development (that I know of)
with the same target market of developing-world classrooms. Intel's
project will be great for classrooms in the developed world, but will
it work in continuous 110-degree heat in a duststorm? In that kind of
environment, even the best pre- and post-sales support won't make a

>Open source -- especially Linux -- is a lovely thing, but too often
considers user and
> customer needs to be annoying distractions from the "interesting" technological bits...

I completely agree, and I think you've pretty neatly nailed the reason
I have a hard time dealing with FOSS folks sometimes (even though I am

I don't think, though, that this is a case of interesting technology
distracting from practical issues. The XO folks seem very
eyes-on-the-prize - and the prize in this case is putting laptops in
the hands of children in the developing world. All other issues,
including, sadly, delivery of my XO, are secondary. As a donor,
though, I kind of appreciate that. :)

Thanks for starting an interesting discussion. No idea if it's within
the charter of this group, but I enjoyed reading it.

Oh, BTW, the most recent Queue had an interesting interview with
OLPC's CEO, who also personally designed the low-power reflective
display. Worth a read if you can find it.


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