It’s time to stick a fork in the OLPC

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Dana Blankenhorn yesterday called the OLPC project a failure for its inability to mass market a low-cost Linux laptop. Dana’s definition of failure, in this case, seems to be based on the quantity of XO laptops distributed.

Like the commenter I am not sure that is fair given the interest OLPC has generated in low-cost computing for the masses, but Nicholas Negroponte’s admission that dual-boot machines are coming and that Windows might one day be the sole operating system for the machines does indicate that the project has failed.

“One can be an open-source advocate without being an open-source fundamentalist,” Negroponte told the AP, while lamenting that the focus on open source software had caused technical problems, such as limiting support for Flash. “Negroponte said he was mainly concerned with putting as many laptops as possible in children’s hands,” added the AP.

The focus on laptop sales is laudable, but it is debatable whether it justifies abandoning open source software. This is a matter not of fundamentalism, but of principles. According to the OLPC website’s information on the software involved in the project:

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Also: Report: OLPC may eventually switch from Linux to Windows XP