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Feature: Wireless & Mobile

A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

By Joe Barr on January 09, 2008 (4:50:03 PM)

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News this morning that the OLPC project is working with Microsoft to deliver a dual-boot XO laptop is causing shock waves among many of the OLPC faithful. Nicholas Negroponte was quoted in the ComputerWorld story as saying, "We are working with them very closely to make a dual-boot system so that, like on an Apple, you can boot either one up. The version that's up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it's very, very successful. We're working very hard to do both."

Reactions to the story this morning on the OLPC developers channel on irc.freenode.net ranged from shock to anger, with one developer saying that it is "utter crap, and is exactly the opposite of why I support this project."

Red Hat has borne most of the cost of software development for the XO thus far. Red Hat's Michael Tiemann told Linux.com this morning, "I haven't heard much about this, but a BBC report last year says "Between Microsoft employees and third party contractors that we have brought into the effort, we have over 40 engineers working full-time on the port."

Tiemann added "This effort makes it clear that Microsoft still has the enormous cash required to demo yesterday's software on tomorrow's hardware. The XO laptop is revolutionary in a number of ways, and not least that it is based on software that children can read, modify, and share. Whether or not Microsoft's porting effort is successful, it does not succeed in the XO's mission, which is to educate, emancipate, and empower a new generation unless Microsoft also adopts a true open source approach. Personally I'm much more excited about the progress of the /next/ port of Fedora than the /last/ version of Windows, but that's just because I've seen the past and I'm much more excited about the future."

Walter Bender, president of the OLPC for software and content, reiterated the news from last year when we queried him about XP on the XO this morning, saying, "Microsoft has been working on an XP port, which from the little I have seen, takes good advantage of the XO display -- it doesn't feel cramped the way window systems often do on low-resolution displays."

Bender also said he is unaware of any plans by Microsoft to open-source the version of Windows being worked on for the XO, adding, "The foci of the discussions we have been having on the software front are in regard to how we can maintain some level of sharing and collaboration between XOs running Sugar/Linux and children using XP and ways in which to ensure that our different approaches to safety and security aren't mutually exclusive."

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on A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 83.86.84.108] on January 09, 2008 06:21 PM
I think this will defeat the sustainability of the OLPC project if microsoft does not open up the source code of this specific windows XP port.

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XO with Linux and Windows XP? Blame it on Sugar!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.20.48.56] on January 09, 2008 06:47 PM
The reinvented wheel GUI i.e. Sugar, is a perfect example of elitists figuring they know what is best for everyone, especially poor brown people. Having myself grown up poor, know that what all poor kids ever want is the same thing others have, even if it is older and used. Not, however, specially made children's welfare products that constantly remind them that they're viewed as sub human because of being on the dole. In this particular case, distributing the minimal OLPC hardware is a good base. I will also applaud some of the the innovative hardware related solutions, especially the display. But why the totally foreign GUI? It's not as if these OLPC's are meant to be used as appliances like the EEEPC's that augment other main systems which are home/office based. These are all the computer these children are likely to see or use for some time.

Based solely on that (dole) sentiment, you can bet that Windows XP upgrades will be wildly popular on this charity silicon. Which, as logic would follow, then show-cases a perceived defeat for the GNU/Linux interface in the preference realm. Why couldn't Negroponte et-al have just built a lightweight Windows clone for these OLPC's user interface instead of trying out some self superior elitist lab coaters tangential GUI wet dream? Sugar, ain't sweet!

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Re: XO with Linux and Windows XP? Blame it on Sugar!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 209.30.171.221] on January 09, 2008 07:08 PM
Practically everything in your post is ridiculous and patently false. How can the Sugar GUI be a reinvention of the wheel when it's so manifestly different from the desktop paradigm? You may not like it, but to claim such a thing shows you have no experience of it. Your attempt to inject race into the discussion has no basis whatsoever in fact. If Sugar is just an attempt to condescend to poor people, why did the Give one Get one program succeed in selling more than 80,000 of of the systems to Americans? If installing Windows will be so wildly popular, why has it not been seen in any deployments so far?

As for the article's topic, Microsoft is of course free to port Windows to whatever platform they want, but official support for this betrays the stated goals of OLPC to use only free software on the machines. I guess all those lofty ideals don't mean much anyway. I wonder what the view source key will be mapped to on Windows? By rights it ought to display the EULA, so that the laptop's users can at least take note of the fundamental philosophical difference at play.

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Re: XO with Linux and Windows XP? Blame it on Sugar! - designed for even those who've never seen a c

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.50.208.4] on January 10, 2008 02:14 PM
As I understand, the idea behind designing the Shugar UI was too support people who had never seen a computer, keyboard or mouse and who may not speak english. The UI has basic picture icons and a minimalist apearance so that someone completely new to the concept of "move mouse, see pointer move" is not overwealmed be being dropped strait into a full blown Windows/Gnome/KDE/other desktop. Also, if you simply slap a fullblown desktop interface on there then you have a whole whack of English text. A; that's even harder for a non-English person to become familiar with rather than simple image icons. B; there's already uproar over the OLPC providing too much English and "Western" ideas and influence so again, a language neutral UI helps there also.

Remember, it's Redhat or some such Linux based OS under the hood; it won't take long before some smart student swaps out Shugar for some other UI. That's part of the reason that FOSS was the prefered solution originally when Microsoft first said there was no way they'd provide a custom OS or include the sourcecode with it (they seem to have changed there minds since on the first stance).

Windows really isn't all it's marketed too be; it'd be sad to see developing countries suckered into the same lock-in we "enjoy" here.

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Re: XO with Linux and Windows XP? Blame it on Sugar!

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.13.239.67] on January 12, 2008 07:56 PM
It is Windows that is second class. I wish I had had something liike Sugar as a child. It may still have a few kinks, but it is freeing rather than constricting allows for exploration and creativity in a way Microsoft never could. Just as the lack of a wired phone infrastructure has resulted in better cellphone development in some parts of the world, I was envious that lack of Windows lock-in would allow a generation of kids in many parts of the world to grow up with something much better.


You have confirmed my fears by your reaction and are most likely either a Microsoft employee or someone otherwise dependent on Microsoft financially.


I was concerned that Microsoft would try come up with software for the XO, not to help the kids or XO but to later use to bad mouth the amazing software developments in exactly the way you have. Not looking at the software for what is is, but abusing the fact that it is first available for third world kids to call it inferior despite its superiority and ultimately to try to hoodwink governments into thinking they would be better off with the inferior Microsoft software.


Alas - I never expected it to happen so soon,
It only took a few hours for the true motivation to come out. I only hope you are unsuccessful in derailing this marvelous project.

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.208.103.23] on January 09, 2008 07:16 PM
How to dumb down the XO? Put Windows XP or any Microsoft OS on it.

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.170.147.44] on January 09, 2008 08:13 PM
This could have been a major win for the oss market, what also could have resulted in orders for other oss system merchants. Instead they took the hippy approach, love!!! peace!!!, let's all work on it like RMS. With all do respect for RMS, this approach doesn't work with pc systems!

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Re: A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP? - education not politics

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 204.50.208.4] on January 10, 2008 02:20 PM
OLPC is an education project not a FOSS political project; that's a big distinction that us tech types always miss. We argue over the hardware, the software, the ideals or development model attached to the software and ideals but we continue to disregard the fact that the hardware unit is an enabling tool for the actual project goals of supporting information sharing and education. I think FOSS is the right way to go also but let's not keep ourselves blind to the *actual* purpose of the machine.

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Re(1): A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP? - education not politics

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.182.32.28] on January 10, 2008 11:02 PM
Well, the news just said it turned into just another political project.
Do you actually believe that the port was made to boost education or to try to kill off a possible FOSS market??
Microsoft just recently "rewarded" a government in the third world that was just about to purchase Mandriva installations in a big deal. All of a sudden they got XP for "a not so retail price" (http://blog.mandriva.com/2007/10/31/an-open-letter-to-steve-ballmer/). Did they do that to be nice to the project, or to keep a competitor at bay. And do you not realize that Microsoft now has the power to bundle OLPC with a "Windows only" reward to any organisation with deep pockets. Just as a test you could try to go to you local compu shop and try to purchase a laptop without Windows Vista. Ask if you can have it with your favourite Gnu/Linux dist instead, and time how long before the sales man breaks into laughs.
It's always nice to be an idealist, frankly I also tend to believe in humanity, but always get hit in the face by the fact that when there is a gain _everything_ is politics.
I really believe the FOSS part of OLPC got a major hit from this and Q is, will it recover??

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Re(2): A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP? - education _IS_ politics

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.182.32.28] on January 10, 2008 11:09 PM
Its always the conqueror that writes the history!

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In other news...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 128.100.167.67] on January 09, 2008 10:10 PM
...the cost of the OLPC will (yet again) be increasing, from $188 to $250.

:P

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Re: In other news...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.240.235.122] on January 10, 2008 02:30 PM
What? You're predicting a further dramatic weakening of the US currency?

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.210.149.64] on January 10, 2008 12:38 AM
wow, cool, instead of getting an open source education tool they get an underpowered windows laptop, way to go... not...

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 202.134.239.215] on January 10, 2008 02:45 AM
What's the point in using F/OSS to move forwards only to have MS Windows (XP no less) to drag the whole effort back. And with Negroponte feigning excitement as scumbag Gates convinces him that the OLPC will be the perfect vehicle for the his faux charity organization to generate more MS revenue in developing markets, the more rotten this whole thing smells.

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Remember that Nick's last name *is* Negroponte

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.104.80.54] on January 12, 2008 11:34 PM
Nick Negroponte is John Negroponte's little brother. John Negroponte is the US Deputy Secretary of State for George W. Bush. Microsoft is a major political campaign contributor, and Bush loves Microsoft (remember the US Dept. of "Justice" slap on the pinky). Gotta keep those campaign dollar$ flowing!

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.221.75.252] on January 10, 2008 03:14 AM
Maybe the chance to see them side by side (in a manner of speaking) will show them how slow xp is next to linux.

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msft

Posted by: jack hidary on January 10, 2008 08:16 AM
don't worry about this dual boot- no one will use it once they see the incredible software on the linux side.

I am lucky enough to have one of the new XO laptops from olpc. this device is nothing short of revolutionary.

more thoughtful design went into this object than the boeing 777.

it is not just about the hardware. this software -with its many opportunities for kids to program and experiment - will lead to even further innovation.

intel is acting like a lumbering elephant in its heavy-footed approach on this. sad but predictable.
before you make any judgement on this venture get hold of an XO and give it a whirl

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.110.82.240] on January 10, 2008 09:56 AM
I just fixed an XP laptop for a friend the other night, and I suddenly remembered why I switched to Linux four years ago. Having run Sugar on another computer under Qemu, I think that any child would find it more interesting than XP by an order of magnitude, (at least *I* certainly did!). I don't think the kids care about the OS as long as they can be creative and learn from their OLPCs, and that's the only reason this project is worth doing at all. It's the governments who ultimately purchase the computers that think their kids need XP so they can *keep up* with the rest of the world, and if dual-booting Sugar with XP convinces them to put more of these incredible little machines into the hands of their children it's probably a good thing. Besides, it will probably take the kids about 15 seconds to decide which OS was designed to inspire them, and which one wasn't. Personally, I don't think MicroSoft can pull it off.

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Re: A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.13.239.67] on January 12, 2008 08:09 PM
Sadly it is not the kids who make the purchasing decisions. How many third world government officials will resist the combination of all the Money MS will throw at them in one way or another along with the badmouthing of Sugar as a third world OS instead of that of the affluent countries. I fear they will cave and give the unfortunate kids MS only versions of the XO (whch will undoubtedly be the strings attached to all the money MS will throw at them.)


If only the kids could make the decisions.

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.219.160.161] on January 10, 2008 10:10 AM
I feel this is a major disappointment. Microsoft has made it's billions and billions by marketing and coercion, NOT by providing a better product than the competition. If this MS infiltration into the OLPC project comes to fruition, I fear the project has just committed suicide. What was once an incredibly progressive educational project is turning into just another commercialized laptop project, and at that point it will be in the arena of long time competitors like HP, Dell, etc. Intel had their hooks in the OLPC project, provided some funding, and when they couldn't get their way on the AMD matter, simply quit. All the while using one of those hooks to data mine contact information and try to pull under the table deals with countries interested in getting their kids an XO. Does anyone really think Microsoft is a more moral corporation than Intel? As for the earlier criticism of Sugar, please try it first before making half-baked slams. You can download an iso of a live demo of Sugar and just play with it. The interface is all about easy point and click for kids, designed to spark their curiosity and engage their minds. The OLPC developers spent a lot of time researching Human Interface Design guidelines and just gathering info from people and kids. Sugar is most certainly not some compromise for 'brown people'.

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.5.114.100] on January 10, 2008 02:46 PM
microsoft is a for-profit company. Its moral follows that principle. It will do whatever it can to keep its current users and increase its market share. There is no way it can compete with FOSS except in creating an imaginary/conceptual advantage on peoples minds. Linux keeps gaining momentum and runs very well from embedded (phones) to clusters (google).

XP/windows-mobile/ms-whatever on XO will only increase its cost. This is strange. Even for-free, you will NEED an anti-vrius, so performance will drop-drop-drop...

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: l_bratch on January 11, 2008 04:55 PM

Re: A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Joe Barr on January 11, 2008 09:21 PM
Microsoft is not a reputable source.

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A dual-boot OLPC XO with Linux and Windows XP?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.0.200.3] on March 10, 2008 07:13 AM
RH or Windows XP? The answer is of course Debian.
(Gentoo is another answer if you want to tune for AMD Geode 3dnow and 3dnowext.
The AMD Geode may not be a full 686 with sse, sse2, etc.)

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