OLPC gives up on Linux

From ‘it’s a sad day’ files:

I remember well the day in 2006 when I saw Nicholas Negroponte (image: left)  take the stage at LinuxWorld Boston (the last time the show was ever held in that town) talking about One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) aka the $100 laptop. There was tremendous optimism then, both for the hardware and its open source Linux operating system.

Today much of that optimism has died.

Negroponte’s OLPC is cutting half its staff (so he’s left with 32 staff members), reducing salaries for existing staffing and giving up on its Sugar Linux operating system.

This doesn’t mean that OLPC has necessarily failed in its mission.

“The fact that there are 500,000 children around the world who have laptops is testament to their extraordinary work and is already a key part of OLPC’s legacy,” Negroponte wrote in a statement. “Separately, OLPC will be dedicated to bringing the cost of the laptop down to Zero for the Least Developed Countries – the $0 Laptop.”

Since Sugar is open source, I strongly suspect that development will continue in the community. So the OS itself won’t die out if users don’t want it too.

In my view the OLPC dream was a goal that might have survived were it not for the global economic meltdown. As it is, the dream of cheap computing has changed thanks to the innovation of netbooks which is something that didn’t exist back in 2006. OLPC might well re-emerge as a force for change in time, but for now, it’s a dark time for those that worked hard on the project that now are left without jobs.

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