[amsat-bb] Re: OLPC Troubles

Eric A, Cottrell wb1hbu at amsat.org
Sat Jan 5 11:01:29 PST 2008

Alan wrote:
> I don't think that those who purchased a XO on the B1G1 initiative or who
> are developing in the XO environment on hardware or on a virtual machine
> should be concerned.
> On the link below, after getting thru the writer's comments about Intel, his
> comments on the Intel Classmate are interesting but I do not know first hand
> if his hardware comments are accurate.
> http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/01/04/intel-quits-olpc-huff

It appears the writer used a Classmate with Windows XP.  Looking at an
overview of the reference design it does not really have the RAM and
storage for Windows XP.

I think the XO is a neat and ground breaking device.  Did I get one?
No, I realized that it is does not meet my needs and would end up in the
closet or given away to a child in a few months.  I am not the target
audience for the device and wonder if people are just buying it for the
"Gee-Wiz" factor.  The XO is the "in" techie thing to own.  The XO can
do any computer task put to it while other hardware, like the Classmate,
are just do-little stripped down versions of a real laptop.

I think there is a coming shift from laptops as desktop replacements to
laptops as portable devices.  It looks like Apple will get into the
market next month.  OLPC may have pioneered this and got other companies
to look at this market.  Unfortunately pioneers are sometimes not the
winners because they stumble and can not recover.  Others learn from the
pioneer's mistakes and are successful.  The de Havilland DH,106 Comet
comes to mind as an example.

I was looking for a small portable computer for years but was
disappointed.  They either ran operating systems that were a pain to
develop for (WinCE) and/or very expensive.  My favorite was the HP95 as
it was small and ran DOS but it had limits.  It is too old now.

I recently got a Asus Eee PC and it fits my needs better than the XO.
There is a growing list of Mods for the computer.  I still have Radio
Programs that need Windows so I put Windows XP on a 4GB SDHC card in the
external slot.  I added a SDHC Card Reader internally to hold a 8GB SDHC
for a KDE based linux distribution.  I will end up with two linux
products and Windows XP on the machine without any USB "Wings".

> An article about OLPC's response to the Intel resignation.
> http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2243814,00.asp
This reminds me of a divorce.  It did not look like a good marriage
going in and now the finger pointing has begun.
> The OLPC CTO also resigned as it appears the XO hardware development is now
> etched in stone and as we already know RTP.
> http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/01/02/olpc-cto-flies-coop

To me if hardware really is etched in stone then it is a concern.  I see
some new technologies coming out that could improve the hardware at
cheaper cost.  Older technology gets obsoleted and generally more
expensive as the years go by.  In a few years some new 16 GB memory
technology may be 20 US Dollars while the 1 GB Flash used in the XO may
cost 50 to 100 US Dollars.  This has happened to RAM memory as higher
Capacity DDR memory costs less than the older PC100 memory.  PC100
Memory prices increased as the volumes went down.

> And, as we also know, Linux, once stable, is all about drivers and open
> source apps, so the sky's the limit. 
> Just a couple of untimely hits to OLPC that I think will have no more effect
> than the Nigerian 419 cons trying to sue OLPC for patent infringement before
> the XO was released... duh?
> http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/inquirer/news/2008/01/02/nigerian-court-stops-
> olpc
This could be some bother as it drains energy and resources from what
should be applied to the OLPC project.  From what I read it does appear
the people bringing the lawsuit against OLPC are just trying to get
money or some other gain. They should not win.  SCO tried similar
methods in the US courts so does that mean all US companies are con
artists as well?

Nigeria has a bad reputation on corruption which results in the easy
path to Nigeria Bashing for groklaw and other commentators.  There is a
tendency to look down upon foreign courts as being below your own court
system's high standards of justice.  The added comments detract from the
arguments and make it appear the commentators are biased against Nigeria
and are only making the comments to bash Nigeria.

73 Eric

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