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Rick Ross, founder of Javalobby, a popular site among Java developers, recently wrote an article about the One Laptop Per Child project and how cool it is. Ross also noted that OLPC does not appear on Sun Microsystems 2007 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, which outlines that company's social responsibility obligations. Ross thinks it's time to change that.
"Maybe Sun and all of us in the worldwide Java community are missing the boat for not getting more involved to ensure that the power of the Java platform helps advance the OLPC effort," Ross says. Today, OLPC uses Python rather than Java for its Sugar user interface. Ross says that when the OLPC was first getting started, Java licensing prevented it from being considered, but now that it's free software, licensed under the GPL, it could be used. Ross suggested that "the broader Java community's social responsibility (not just Sun's), support for OLPC probably deserves to be high on our list of priorities."
Since there are technical problems that require funding and manpower to overcome before Java can run on the OLPC laptop, Ross made this offer:
Javalobby will put its money where its mouth is on this one. If someone out there will organize and plan a reasonable, credible project to bring Java to the OLPC, then Javalobby is prepared to get things rolling by contributing up to $5,000 in seed funding.
Walter Bender, the OLPC president of software and content, has no objection to running Java on OLPC's XO device. He says, "We originally opted to go with Python instead of Java primarily because [it was] FOSS. We also, for bloat reasons, have kept all of our development in Python subsequent to change of heart from Sun regarding the Java licenses. Both making a Java fork of the Sugar environment ... and providing basic lightweight support for Java in the current Python version are of interest to us. However, while we are flat out trying to get ready for [mass production], these tasks are going to have to be picked up by the community."
The bottom line appears to be that there is interest in both the Java and the OLPC camps. The next step is to see whether the communities involved step forward.