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Red Hat officially commits to MIT's $100 laptop

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Linux software vendor Red Hat Inc. plans to publicly confirm on Tuesday that it has become a founding corporate member of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization.

The non-profit OLPC was established a year ago to spearhead development of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Laboratories’ project to build US$100 laptops for schoolchildren worldwide, particularly students in emerging and developing countries.

The ruggedized lime-green 500MHz laptop, which is in prototype phase, will run a slimmed-down version of the Linux operating system and be powered by either an AC adapter or a wind-up crank. Each laptop will act as a node in a mesh peer-to-peer ad hoc network, meaning that if one laptop is directly accessing the Internet, when other machines power on, they can share that single online connection.

The idea is to provide children with a free laptop to improve their education in the classroom and outside. Governments would pay for the laptops.

Red Hat formally committed to the initiative last month, according to Mike Evans, Red Hat’s vice president of corporate development. The vendor joins Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), Brightstar Corp., Google Inc., News Corp. and Nortel Networks Corp., which also are helping to develop the laptop. Red Hat had been in talks with OLPC for almost a year.

Evans wouldn’t comment on the amount of money or resources Red Hat is giving to OLPC. However, a recent United Nations press release stated that all six of the technology companies have already donated $2 million each to the laptop project.

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