Finally saw an OLPC, they exist (but still not for sale)


I’m here at OSCON and finally got to see a real working OLPC laptop. The OSU Open Source Center (I think that’s what it was called) has been developing a media player for it and was showing off their efforts (cool stuff). First impressions,… it’s really tiny, fun looking with it’s little ears, and is really light.

However… you still can’t buy one. I just can’t understand this (maybe it’s changing?). It’s leveraging open source software but you have to be a member of a traditional developer network to get one (you can get the emulator, but if you can’t get the device why would you want to?). I just don’t understand how those in charge can really expect to develop a vibrant community when the device isn’t available to the people most likely to tinker with it and create stuff.

I haven’t been closely following all the discussions of the economics of this softa $100+ machine, but it seems to me like retail sales of any magnitude would 1) enhance the bulletproofing of the device 2) increase production runs to reduce costs 3) enhance the viability of the open source communities around the device and, perhaps most importantly 4) prevent the unsavory but inevitable news story of Nigerian kids selling their laptops to re-sellers who then see them turn up on ebay. If there is no where to get one, this will happen.

This isn’t a solution. It’s a cheap machine,… so what; that’s not the point.

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