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Jobs Offers Free Mac OS X For $100 Laptops 1053

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the it's-the-thought-that-counts dept.
bonch writes "Steve Jobs offered Mac OS X free of charge to the $100 laptop effort by the One Laptop Per Child project. However, his offer was declined because the project was looking for a 100% open source solution. The laptops will now be running on Red Hat Linux on AMD chips."
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Jobs Offers Free Mac OS X For $100 Laptops

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  • Free publicity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:03PM (#14031389)
    Gee if I was an OS writer Id do it too - its free publicity!

    I feel so glad for the red hat crew right now, because theyre going to get lots and lots of promotion from this :D
  • Silly? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SultanCemil (722533) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:03PM (#14031394)
    Does this seem like a little bit of zealotry? I mean, why not use a nice, EASY*TO*USE OS instead of something the under-priviledged people using this machine will have to struggle to learn?
  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto@co[ ]xer.com ['nne' in gap]> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:04PM (#14031396) Homepage

    However, his offer was declined because the project was looking for a 100% open source solution. The laptops will now be running on Red Hat Linux on AMD chips.

    Sometimes it's tough to stick to your principles. However, in the long run it is always better not to compromise on your beliefs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:04PM (#14031399)
    Idiots.

    Give them a laptop the kinds can more easily use to accomplish their task.

    I am an avid Linux user.. But i sure hte hell wouldn't expect most kids to figure out how to configure or install some applications at this point in Linux's development.
  • by chronicon (625367) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:04PM (#14031402) Homepage
    FTA:
    Steve Jobs, Apple Computer Inc.'s chief executive, offered to provide free copies of the company's operating system, OS X, for the machine, according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative's founders. "We declined because it's not open source," says Dr. Papert, noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wlan0 (871397) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:06PM (#14031411)
    Red Hat? It looks like they've been helping, but wouldn't using something like Debian Embedded be better, as it could be less bloated?
  • by Threni (635302) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:06PM (#14031413)
    > I thought it was offered free? So where's the problem?

    Your understanding of the word `free` in this context.
  • The real strategy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Mrcowcow (931085) <{mrcowcow} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:07PM (#14031419)
    To really get publicity, he shouldoffer it for free to the general public! Now that would get media attention.
  • by JoeShmoe950 (605274) <CrazyNorman@gmail.com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:08PM (#14031425) Homepage
    While fast for what it does, OSX does quite a bit. Will you really get a 3d accelerated GUI environment to run on a $100 machine? That seems like asking a lot from the hardware which costs so little. While OSX is nice, I've heard that it can be somewhat slow on even a 700mhz iBook. Do we really want to use it on a $100 laptop?
  • Redhat? Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SocialEngineer (673690) <invertedpanda@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:08PM (#14031431) Homepage

    I don't see any reason why they couldn't take a nice bare-essentials distro, and build to it from the ground up. I've set up Slack boxes to work rather pain-free for computer illiterate users. No worrying about having to use bundled crap.

    Oh well, I'm biased. Grain of salt ;)

  • Sensible Choice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by external400kdiskette (930221) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:09PM (#14031434)
    Free installs doesn't mean all upgrades and software will be free and the choices might not be as high when you don't want to spend any $ for the software that you'll need to go along with the OS.

    By choosing Red Hat not only do they have a free OS and practically guaranteed free upgrades, they'll also have a huge selection of free software to get maximum use out of the laptops.
  • by GenKreton (884088) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:09PM (#14031435) Journal
    It is akin to offering cigarettes to school children for free. You get them hooked early then they pay for the rest of their life (yes I borrowed this from Stallman, and poorly paraphrased too I might add). These guys firmly believe common software should be open source. Especially those wanting to find an opportunity with computers, open source offers them a free way to learn coding methods and such that they may not have access to in their schools. They get free upgrades t their machines if they wish, and do no have to fall behind in the newer software. It is a win-win situation for them.

    Whether you believe in open source or not, it is hard to argue it will not benefit those who are receiving these laptops. In the future if they want to use MacOS they can pay for it themselves and leave Linux behind if they feel it will make them more productive or happy.
  • But what if MS? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by RequiemX (926964) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:09PM (#14031437)
    As much as I love my Mac, I must admit that the last thing a developing country needs is to be helplessly tied to a major corporation. If Microsoft offered them Windows and was accepted, we'd all be up in arms.
  • by shmlco (594907) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:10PM (#14031447) Homepage
    "...noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with."

    So they declined a world-class OS with commercially available software because the designers (who are not the intended users) wanted something they could tinker with. Makes sense to me....

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by strider44 (650833) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:12PM (#14031463)
    Red Hat, however, doesn't take an overwhelming amount of system resources, which I presume is ever so slightly important for something that's supposed to be able to be powered by a hand powered generator. Besides, Red Hat is also donating a couple of million to this project, something which Steve Jobs doesn't seem to be doing.
  • Re:good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shmlco (594907) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:13PM (#14031468) Homepage
    "More critical thinking skills for the kids that get to fix their linux installs instead of clicking on pretty icons."

    Uh, how about kids who are actually using the notebooks to get their homework done... and not needing to FIX their linux installs at all!

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:14PM (#14031475) Journal
    However, in the long run it is always better not to compromise on your beliefs.

    What if those beliefs are asinine, as in this case?

    -jcr
  • Zealotry? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by olddotter (638430) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:16PM (#14031492) Homepage
    Well their reason for not selecting it might be zealotry, but I have to beleive that they can create a Redhat based distribution that will work with their hardware all the time. That is part of the Apple secret. If your hardware is a small handpicked set, then having an OS that just works is that much easier.
  • by duffahtolla (535056) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:18PM (#14031508)
    He also says Microsoft, which is a financial contributor to MIT and a backer of its Media Lab, has undergone a change in attitude about the $100 laptop. "Their first reaction was to laugh at the idea, then the next reaction was kind of antagonistic," he says. "Recently, they're very friendly."

    Be afraid, be very afraid..

    And Mr. Negroponte, after meeting with Mr. Gates, now says, "The machine will run anything, including Windows."

    MS might be planing a way to ursurp all those laptops after they've been distributed. Hope Jobs does the same.

  • by JoeShmoe950 (605274) <CrazyNorman@gmail.com> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:18PM (#14031510) Homepage
    If your going to use an incredibly stripped down version of OSX, which no longer even resembles OSX to a large extent, why use OSX at all?
  • by El Pollo Loco (562236) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:18PM (#14031512)
    Thank you! This was exactly my thought. I run a minimal WM on X on my 266 mhz laptop, and it still struggles. A $100 dollar laptop won't have the horsepower to run OSX.

    Say the designers need more speed. What are they going to do, go to Apple and say "Please optimize your GUI, it's too sluggish"? Apple isn't going to do that, there's no money in it for them. What are they supposed to do then?

    This was the correct course of action for them.
  • by Latent Heat (558884) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:19PM (#14031514)
    I have never found Macintosh easy to use, not back in the day when it came out, and not recently when I tested some Java apps on a Mac.

    It is said that the Linux window managers are imitating Windows. Could it be said that it was really Windows imitating X/Motif/Open look? Didn't windowing systems happen on Unix workstations before they happened on PCs, and wasn't Windows trying to be more like the workstations than like the Mac?

    For starters, the Mac hangs on to the application program menu as this shared resource where the app that gets the focus also gets control over the single on-screen menu. That may have been fine back in the day of small screens and limited pixels, but in these days of monster displays and ever more pixels, for crying out loud, give each app its own menu as is done by the Linux window managers and by Windows. The Mac system of you have to think which app has control over the menu is too much a distraction. Interestingly, Java apps running under OS-X have their own menus along with a bare-bones Mac main menu.

  • Re:Free publicity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by strider44 (650833) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:20PM (#14031521)
    *sigh* does *noone* read the article? I've already written this several times in several different threads. This isn't free publicity for Red Hat - they're helping funding the project! They've donated a couple of million dollars to this project: "Five companies -- Google Inc., Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Red Hat Inc., News Corp. and Brightstar Corp. -- have each provided $2 million to fund a nonprofit organization called One Laptop Per Child that was set up to oversee the project."
  • Re:Silly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jaiyen (821972) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:21PM (#14031533)
    Zealotry perhaps, but if it was Microsoft giving away XP you just know all the comments here would be about how it's only a trick to lock-in new users to Microsoft software. Isn't that argument equally valid (or invalid, depeding on your pov) for Apple too ?
  • by rookworm (822550) <horace7945@@@yahoo...ca> on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:24PM (#14031548)
    To really get publicity, he shouldoffer it for free to the general public! Now that would get media attention.

    And that's what it's really all about in the end. If they adopted OSX, there would be massive vendor lock-in all over the world. Not to mention, they would be dependent on Apple for support due to Closed-source api's. With a free (libre) solution there would be none of this trouble. Not to mention localization possibilities.... This is essentially an empty offer, since they'd have to be nuts to accept it.

  • by rayde (738949) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:24PM (#14031549) Homepage
    exactly! honestly not trying to troll here, Mac OS X is a tried and true (and awesome) desktop OS. Red Hat certainly has a good track record as a server OS but it has certainly not yet proven to me that it is worthwhile on the desktop.

    I say they should reconsider taking the Mac OS X. Those users who want to tinker will be able to download Linux anyway. (GUESS WHAT, LINUX IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE FREE. Mac OS X is not.)

  • Dear Steve, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by simpl3x (238301) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:25PM (#14031550)
    You had a fantastic little platform in the Newton. The profile of the educational version was perfect. If you would simply provide such a platform again, at a reasonable price, and provide development tools such as HyperCard, you wouldn't need the hundred dollar laptop effort. YOu could create your own!

    Making it easier for us to contact your company with such proposals would be nice also.
  • by Trogre (513942) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:26PM (#14031557) Homepage
    Morton's Steakhouse offered to give all of the kids a free steak dinner, but the project declined, saying they needed to stick to their previous decision of powdered eggs for everyone...

    I think you'll find it's more like:

    Fluffy Bunny's Candy Shop offered to give all of the kids a free lolly bag, but the project declined, saying they needed to stick to their previous decision of providing fresh vegetables, books on farming, ploughing and harvesting equipment, irrigation systems and bags of seed for everyone.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:27PM (#14031559)
    ...

    I didn't say it would be a "incredibly stripped down" version of OS X that wouldn't resemble OS X.

    I said it would be a version of OS X targeted for this platform and program. In other words, all the comments like "OMG, I heard some of OS X's special fancy graphic effects are slow on an iBook, so, OMG, how would it run on a $100 laptop?!??!?!??!!11111one" are completely irrelevant, because the 3D graphic effects aren't what's important. It would most certainly resemble OS X, and would in fact be OS X, and the things that are most important about OS X are things like its frameworks and APIs, and extensive support for languages and extensively polished user interface.

  • Re:free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by barc0001 (173002) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:28PM (#14031570)
    Perhaps you could point out some open chipsets and video cards they could have taken advantage of, given their budgetary and quantity needs?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:29PM (#14031572)
    more likely the designers wanted an operating system they could tinker with because the sub-$100 laptop is going to have such tight and changable CPU, hdd & 2D graphics constraints that trying to run a generic x86 MacOSX compile on it would be like trying to fight Windows 95 on a fscking 386SX. It'd run alright, or maybe I should say it'd crawl .
  • by wondercool (460316) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:30PM (#14031580) Homepage
    Unbelievable the reactions.

    Apple offers it's OS-X free and everybody in this sections says take it.
    Imagine Microsoft would offer Windows for free for this device? Everybody cries out loud.
    (You can already see some reactions like that around this reaction)

    I think it's very wise not to tie yourself to any vendor.
    With commercial OS makers, you will have to hope they keep the terms the same in a couple of years and as Seymour Papert said: you can't tinker.

    It's also a bit weird that Mr Jobs refuses 3rd party hardware makers to use OSX and now he suddenly 'donates' OS-X...
  • by MourningBlade (182180) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:34PM (#14031604) Homepage

    Apple, for offering up their hard work for free for a great idea. Apple wants people to be able to have a good, modern system for people to work with that is easy to learn and use.

    Thank you, Apple.

    I also admire the laptop project for turning them down. The point of a computer is not just to "do things" - it's to learn that things can be done. It wasn't pocket calculators that changed the world, it was readily-available, general-purpose, programmable computers.

    Having a tool you can study and modify in great depth is a wonderful thing. It's not just a tinker-toy set, it's a tinker-toy set and ready-made large-scale projects *in that set* for you to study and alter/improve upon.

    This is the same thing that brought about "hacker boom" of the TRS 80, of the Apple ][, and, yes, even early DOS - except this is larger scale, more sophisticated, and more flexible.

    The $100 laptop is not about writing school reports, it's not about web logs, and it's not about accounting software. It's "here's what you can do, here's the tools to do it, and here's how it can be done - come join us."

    That is the ultimate goal of Free software, and it can not be accomplished using Mac OS X, no matter how excellent a system OS X is.

  • Re:Silly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:34PM (#14031606)
    Later in TFA they talk about MS's involvement. They're "very friendly" to the project. I expect when and if this gets close to production, MS will announce virtually free versions of Windows for these laptops, and push them out through schools, and students never seeing the Linux screen after the first day when the teacher hans out the Windows CDs. MS has shown they'd rather pay people to run Windows than see Linux get a foothold.
  • by carlmenezes (204187) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:35PM (#14031610) Homepage
    I think sir, you will find that kids are FAR more adept at grasping unknown concepts than you and me. We have our ways and are set in them. To learn something new, we need to get away from what we are used to. Kids don't have that disadvantage. Believe me, I know from experience. They grasp Linux as fast as they grasp Windows. From what i've seen (I setup a linux computer lab for an orphanage in India and helped them decide the computer syllabus for the school), Linux helps more because the brighter kids start poring through the man pages and start mucking around with shell commands and scripting after some time (all we told them was that if they needed to know about something, use "info " or "man " - nothing else). They actually learn from it and sometimes they ask you about options that you didn't know existed :) With Windows, the help from both Windows and the command shell isn't too great and the chance to experiment isn't really there. They also appreciate choice. Give them an option to choose their window manager at the login screen and they will go through every single one! Why? Because they can and because they're curious.

    Sure, Mac OS X is a great OS that just works. Sure its a real steal at no cost. But for kids, the cost of the OS doesnt matter. The fact that it just works is good. But what they really want to do is get into the internals and rip it apart to see what makes it tick. What better candidate than something that's open source? They dont have deadlines to meet. They are not bothered by customers who inist on their documents being in the MS Office format. For kids, it's about the concepts. If it doesn't work, they'll try for some time to see why. They will ask you why it doesn't work. They will try to fix it. If they can't they will ask you. They will listen while you tell them what's wrong. If you can fix it, they will watch you doing it very carefully, trying to understand what you are doing and asking 100 questions in the process. If you can't fix it, they forget about it and move to something else.

    Do not underestimate the kids' thirst for knowledge and their ability to acquire it :) Sure, there will be those who dont want to learn. That is something that won't change regardless of WHAT you're trying to teach them. But for those that DO want to learn, anything will do.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:37PM (#14031620) Homepage Journal
    Actually, having had a lengthy private conversation with the gentleman, I think I can say that RMS is a sane fellow with a sincere belief that liberal programs help people.
    I shared with him that quote from Civ IV "The bureuacracy is expanding to support the needs of an expanding bureaucracy" but the point seemed to elude him. Possibly he focuses on the results, rather than the ethical vacuum existing within the Beltway.
    At any rate, among the problems with the opaque OS X binary is that people can't learn much from it. I can't say that I have spelunked deeply within all of the tarballs in /usr/portage/distfiles, but I do look at them now and then. Having that latitude is not to be casually foregone, for all OS X is eyecandyville.
  • by carlmenezes (204187) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:38PM (#14031623) Homepage
    I guess what I'm trying to say in a nutshell is...a box of lego pieces that may or may not fit each other is much more stimulating to a kid's ability to learn and explore than a pre-made action figure that walks and says something.
  • by duffahtolla (535056) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:49PM (#14031698)
    But if all the courseware is initially setup for Windows, would they then be able to run linux? Most likely not, and then we have a repeat of what we have today. A fractured OS landscape, with MS leading the way with patented document formats and restricted liscenses.

    We want to educate these children, not torture them with litigation and incompatibilties.

  • Re:free? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Apotsy (84148) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:56PM (#14031727)
    They're MIT, they could just design their own.

    (or they could just admit that the whole thing is a giant pile of vapourware and has only gotten any attention because it has the MIT name associated with it -- just like everything else the Media Center "produces")

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lucidwray (300955) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:57PM (#14031731)
    I have to agree with this. I recently needed a second computer at home, so i broke out my old 400Mhz G3 PowerMac. I installed OS 10.3 on it and with only 128M of ram it's still pretty fast. It impresses me every time I use it. For web surfing and email there isint a whole lot of difference between it and my PowerBook G4 1Ghz.

  • Re:Silly? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:58PM (#14031735)
    No, it's not silly:

    Mac excels for people who are cash rich, time poor people who have no wish to learn all about their computers.
    Linux is great for cash poor, time rich people who can and should learn a lot about computers.
    (Windows is great for people with bad habits and no time or interest to change them.)

    Kids have (or should have!) the spare time, flexibility, lack of preconceptions about how things are done on computers, etc.. For them, the Linux barrier to entry is low, and they have the potential to exploit it far beyond what their older and dumber relatives can do. Their parents might need easy, but the kids need a challenge.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday November 14, 2005 @10:59PM (#14031745)
    You can bet your bottom dollar that Red Hat is seeing dollar signs out of this deal. Big dollar signs

    Probably their payoff would be cohorts of students who were weaned on RH Linux moving into the business world, in countries where the IT infrastructure is minimal or based on pirated software. Instead of the usual dilemma of lock in to MS these countries face when they want to go legit, they'll be free to choose Linux if they want. MS will have to fight for the market instead of having it fall in their laps as it does now due to lack of support or familiarity with anything else.

  • by Golias (176380) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:00PM (#14031749)
    And how, exactly, does the fact that they're donating money indicate that they're not in it for the publicity?

    He didn't say it wasn't publicity. He said it wasn't FREE publicity.

    Red Hat is not getting free publicity. They are buying publicity for two million dollars. That's pretty fucking far from free.

    Then again, Red Hat has been stretching the definition of "free" in a lot of ways over the last couple years, heh.
  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:00PM (#14031750) Homepage

    Doesn't it seem like pro-proprietary software zealotry to think that refusing an opportunity to lose one's software freedom is pitched as "zealotry"? No, framing this issue as zealotry won't help you understand what is really going on.

    Ease of use is not freedom. Ease of use is a subjective assessment (everything is probably roughly equally hard to learn when you have no experience with computers) that doesn't address educational goals to the degree software freedom does. Any software can be made easier to use and people don't need to rely on proprietors to do it for us. We can and should do it for ourselves and share the results with people (particularly those who will share their improvements with us). This is part of the spirit that got us the free software OSes we enjoy today.

    What Apple is offering here is a gratis opportunity to put on some handcuffs and choose between a set of masters. Some of MacOS X is free software but not all of it. Why subject the kids to a computer they can't control completely? Why help them grow an addiction to proprietary software that will be hard to break? I realize that /. readers tend to think this way only of Microsoft, but Apple is offering a comparable deal here: no software freedom, more like "the first bite is free".

    For more on this, I recommend reading Why schools should use exclusively free software [gnu.org].

  • by afaik_ianal (918433) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:06PM (#14031789)
    You can bet your bottom dollar that Red Hat is seeing dollar signs out of this deal. Big dollar signs.

    Yes, you're right. Big red dollar signs to the tune of $2,000,000. The only dollar signs they are likely to see out of this are years down the track, when these students are making purchasing decisions for their employers...

    <rant>...or putting up annoying posts on /. saying, "Eh??? But <<Insert distribution name here>> sux0rs. Redhat is so much better!", just like half the gits who have commented on this story.</rant>
  • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:07PM (#14031790)
    Everyone compares APT to RPM, you are wrong. Compare apt to yum, apt handles dependencies for deb and yum handles dependencies for rpm. If you go grab a random DEB off the net, you'll have dependency hell too. The problems you speak of haven't existed for years. Red Hat is also more free than Ubuntu, which infringes on several patents. Red Hat has better hardware support, it has the support base, the community and the ease of use. Not to mention Red Hat gave 2 million dollars in funding to the charity making these laptops. The more I hear people complain about Red Hat, the more I realize they either listen to FUD too much or haven't used it in years. In case folks forgot, Debian had plenty of its own problems a half decade to a decade ago, and even today. Ubunutu is currently the flavor of the day, just like Gentoo was 12 months ago. Red Hat has shown consistency. When you've been around as long as Red Hat, its assumed a mistake will be made here or there,but they've always more than made up for it and considering all they provide for the community (They don't just package up other people's code and call it a distro, they actually code large portions of it themselves and then give it away) they deserve more slack from /.

    Regards,
    Steve
  • by Alien Being (18488) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:13PM (#14031822)
    They rejected OSX in favor of a better solution.

    You should not dismiss the concept of Open Source software as a "silly doctrinaire reason". The economic impact of adopting proprietary software could be enormous and long-lasting. It's critical that this technology be sustainable in the long term without dependence on a single foreign entity.

    Apple could easily be gone in ten years, but there will be a continuity of Open Source software until the next ice age.
  • by pomo monster (873962) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:16PM (#14031841)
    Or maybe you'll just end up with a lot of $100, laptop-shaped holes in the wall. Mud brick wall.

    Look, they can still install a Linux distro, if that's what they want to do, even if OS X comes preinstalled. Those who want to tinker with their operating system will undoubtedly do just that. Those who want to tinker with other stuff--Wikipedia, email to the developed world, whatever--they probably won't want to uninstall OS X, and as far as they're concerned, they'll be the better for it.
  • Re:Free publicity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:17PM (#14031848) Homepage Journal

    The entire project is purely a publicity mill for the involved parties.

    A publicity mill, certainly, but what leads you to believe that it is "purely" a publicity mill? Are people only allowed to do good things if there is absolutely zero benefit to themselves?

    At some point, cynicism becomes just another form of stupidity.

  • by pomo monster (873962) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:21PM (#14031879)
    How about all the other kids who, instead of playing with their computer's fundamentals, would rather play with word-processing, art, design, or communication? These activities are all stimulating to a kid's ability in different ways, and it seems that being forced to mess around with their OS would detract from their learning in these other regards.
  • Re:free? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ClamIAm (926466) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:32PM (#14031928)
    What you neglect to mention is that there's a fundamental difference between hardware and software. Hardware costs money every time you make a copy of it. Copies of software can be "made" for virtually nothing.
  • by MaestroRC (190789) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:33PM (#14031932) Homepage
    I still digress on this.

    I have (currently) OS X 10.4.3 installed on a 400MHz iMac G3 (original graphite DV model). The actual specs are 400MHz/1GB RAM/7200RPM disk (120GB, for no reason at all). It runs Tiger just fine, and it's actually faster with Tiger than it was with Panther. Sure, it's not always quite as smooth as OS9, but it does it all in stride, and does a lot more than OS9 would allow me to do on it.

    OS X has some neat tricks for older machines, including disabling the 3D effects when the machine can't handle it (this one definitely can't, it's an 8MB ATI Rage Pro). There's no interaction required to disable them, it just doesnt do it. Sure, it doesn't look as good as on my powerbook or my roommate's Dual 2.5GHz G5, but it does just fine for email, browsing, and streaming iTunes music to our Airport Express.

    OS X could be made to run just fine on whatever machines they throw at it, I think.
  • not really.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by carlmenezes (204187) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:38PM (#14031957) Homepage
    for a kid, something like GIMP is MORE than enough...heck, they will use the default paintbrush tool and the default color and start drawing. At the end, the drawing is a bunch of squiggles. But to them, it's an ice monster. They will ask you how to change colors. You show them, they're happy. They will find out the rest in their time. You then show them gradients....they play with them...Sometimes you get a little ahead of yourself and try to explain to them layers, opacity and filters...they lose interest. Why? because they want to draw their ice monster and all they need is 3 shades of blue.

    With kids, what I've seen is that their imagination plays a MAJOR role in what they do. So, something even as limited as paintbrush is good enough to them. The ones who want to learn more about drawing will do so. They will come to you with questions. You show them how to do what they want and they will remember because that is what they are interested in.

    Same with word processors. They will play with font sizes and bold, italics and underline fonts and will explore every button on the word processor to see what it does. They'll use character and line formatting to write "their story". Maybe a few figures here and there. it won't be structured and it won't need a table of contents - and openoffice is more than capable for those needs. They are also not bothered by it's sluggishness...to them...that's the way it works...no complaints.

    Its the same with something like inkscape...as long as they can print their pictures or save them to work on them again, they're happy.

    And yes, I do know what you're talking about and when stuff goes wrong, they will wait for you to fix it and then they're happy to get back to what they were doing. One thing with Linux stuff...you generally only have to fix it once. Once it works, it works well. That suits kids perfectly.
  • by ClamIAm (926466) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:39PM (#14031962)
    You can bet your bottom dollar that Red Hat is seeing dollar signs out of this deal. Big dollar signs.

    Yeah, because the kids that are buying/getting $100 laptops will surely turn around and license RHEL for thousands of dollars. /sarcasm
  • by Tim Browse (9263) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:44PM (#14031988)
    I like the way this attitude (and the same pictures) come around in comments on Apple related stories every now and then on slashdot - I love the irony of people who claim to 'Think Different' making their point by essentially saying "Look at these attractive people - don't you want to be like them? If you use this OS you will be attractive!"

    Way to sidestep the global marketing brainwashed groupthink and reject the use of sex to sell products! You certainly are creative and revolutionary. Well done.

  • by Bingo Foo (179380) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:45PM (#14031991)
    I'm sure Red Hat will stick to their principles by taking a tax write-off for every OS installed too. That's $50 per install of pure donated software value, right?

  • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:49PM (#14032008) Homepage

    Running the software for any reason is only a part of software freedom. In fact, it's the first part of the Free Software definition [gnu.org]. It's the part that is supplied by just about all programs (but some programs even cut this off after a certain amount of time). What you don't get is the freedom to inspect the program, to learn how it works, or to share copies of the program, to help your neighbors, or to modify the program, to make the program suit your needs. In short, you miss out on all of the other parts of what makes a program Free Software. You could have used a different program to do that job, or written one yourself, or hired someone to write the program for you, then you would have software freedom. But with proprietary software, the proprietor is purposefully denying you your software freedom.

  • by arminw (717974) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:57PM (#14032044)
    ....Mac OS X, especially free, would have been the best possible choice....

    Would that choice not depend on what the primary uses that this $100 machine were to be used for? Also would that include the iLife programs and would there be enough RAM to run those? Certainly for e-mail and web surfing OSX would likely work quite well. OSX set up as a limited user is very easy to use by almost anybody. If the $100 hardware were certified by Apple to truly work with OSX for the intended uses, the rejection of the offer smacks of pride by someone associated with that project.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:58PM (#14032049)
    Apple wants people to be able to have a good, modern system for people to work with that is easy to learn and use.

    Apple wants more people to use Apple computers, so that they'll buy more and more other Apple products. To believe anything else is simply stupid.
  • by Lally Singh (3427) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:58PM (#14032053) Journal
    Because they may be doing it for higher causes. Some people, even those in corporations, still would like a better world for their kids.
  • by SenatorOrrinHatch (741838) on Monday November 14, 2005 @11:59PM (#14032057)
    The really interesting thing is that apple would make so much money off of services if they distributed the OS for precisely: zero money. How much $dough$ does microsoft make each year, not because they necessarily have the best solution, but instead the most ubiquitous one?
  • Re:free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dana340 (914286) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @12:04AM (#14032078)
    Open Chipsets? Are there such a thing? You might as well build a whole new architecture. The foundation of this project is standing on the shoulders of older technology that is somewhat tried and true, and now cheap to manufacture. It's pointless to design new chipsets from scratch.
  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @12:25AM (#14032189)
    "very well?" You must have a LOT of patience. I've placed OS X on older G3 Macs, and I've found it incredibly difficult to be productive. Processes take forever.

    I can hardly stand OS X on an older G4 with 256 megs of RAM.
  • by Jobe_br (27348) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hturdb]> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @12:36AM (#14032254)
    I disagree. Principles is one thing, succeeding is another. We forget that using a computer is a difficult and even scary experience for the vast majority of folks, particularly those with very little education. Packing laptops with what is still widely considered the most user-friendly operating system on the market today would certainly have been a wise move, IMHO.

    I've been a Linux user for roughly 7-8 yrs, not an old-timer by any means, but I've hit most of the distros, many when they were still in their infancy (RedHat, Mandr[ake/iva], etc.). I've installed Ubuntu for my sister-in-law and many developers at my company use it. But personally (when I'm not posting from my XP SP2 ThinkPad), I'm on a Mac. I just don't have to spend as much time "messing" with things. And that's the fact of the matter.

    Flame away.
  • Re:Silly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arminw (717974) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @12:41AM (#14032275)
    .....noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with....

    That tells me that this project is doomed right now. The supposed recipients of these computers don't want something to tinker with, but a computer they can actually USE to COMMUNICATE and learn stuff that has nothing whatsoever to do with computers as such. This is like giving a telephone to someone, but requiring that they first learn the laws of electricity before they can use it to call their friends. To use a gas driven water pump for irrigating a field, it is not neccessary to learn the details of how an internal combustion engine works. To use a computer tool, it should not be required to be able to "tinker" with it. With OSX a knowledgeable person CAN tinker with it, but 99% of those computers will NOT be tinkered with by their users. Because Linux is designed by tinkerers for tinkerers, it will never be a general use computer by the unwashed, non-technical masses.

    It seems that people around here immediately ascribe the worst motives to any large company that wants to help even a tiny bit in making this a better world.
  • Re:Silly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mph (7675) <mph@freebsd.org> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @12:50AM (#14032318)
    Well I can't tinker with: quartz, iwork, iphoto, itunes, airport extreme, spotlight, quicktime, isync, ical,imovie, apple's mail, safari (but you can tinker with safari's rendering engine), ichatAV, garage band, idvd, all the pro applications, and much much more.
    So, how do you tinker with those applications on Linux?
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @12:59AM (#14032351)
    They want an operating system "that can be tinkered with," which displays the standard Slashbot geek assumptions:

    1.) That everybody is a goddamned operating systems kernel engineer instead of a user who wants to get some fucking computer work done. 95% of you people have never even modified a single line of your local Linux kernel source tree.

    2.) That there will always be a majority of kids who aren't interested in staring at lines of source code to feel good about their "software freedom." Give me a break.

    3.) That the tiny minority of kids who would actually be interested in Linux and 100% open source would just wipe OS X off the laptop and install Linux for free anyway.

    4.) You guys obsess over making every little kid a coder, when XCode/GCC ships free with OS X, and these kids could have been designing the next great Cocoa apps. Cocoa simply whips the butt of everything else out there.

    5.) There are TONS more creative kids than coder kids, and think of all the incredible creative stuff that would have been nurtured here. iLife ships for free with OS X. Now these kids won't get to have Garageband for free, or iPhoto for free, or iMovie and iDVD for free. But hey, now they get to experience the joy of having to install two entire desktop environments and libraries just to run each other's apps! Have fun with a "package management system" and a fragmented filesystem hierarchy that dumps files all over the place instead of in well-designed bundles!

    6.) Which leads to my final point. These kids will be taught the wrong ways to do things instead of the right ways. App bundles, real application APIs, real drag-and-drop, etc....

    But, the designers' wishes triumphed. Oh? What's this? Red Hat donated $2 million to this project, and now they're getting used over OS X? Ah, that's why. So much for free and open. Only the designers got what they wanted. I guarantee a kid given a choice and presented both systems would have gone with Apple...
  • Re:Redhat? Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by evilviper (135110) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @01:33AM (#14032477) Journal
    I don't see any reason why they couldn't take a nice bare-essentials distro, and build to it from the ground up.

    They are doing just that. The fact that RedHat is doing it, doesn't mean they are just installing a stock Fedora release on the boxes.
  • Re:Silly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the quick brown fox (681969) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @01:38AM (#14032504)
    Hmmm, I read that as the designers wanting to tinker with the OS themselves (i.e. modify it to suit its unique hardware features/limitations and usage scenarios), not the designers thinking users would tinker with it. If nothing else, the fact that the OS, applications, and data all need to fit within 1GB of storage (and only 128MB of RAM)... if you trimmed that much fat from OS X I'm not sure how it would be any better/different than Linux.

    Because Linux is designed by tinkerers for tinkerers, it will never be a general use computer by the unwashed, non-technical masses.

    It's not clear to me that this is intended to be the kind of "general use" computer we are used to. Maybe it will only really be designed to run the productivity suite it comes with, along with some simple games... like GEM, back in the 80's. And if the exposed surface area is small enough, there's no reason Linux can't be plenty friendly (ever tried TiVo?).

  • by humina (603463) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @01:58AM (#14032583) Homepage
    "Some people, even those in corporations, still would like a better world for their kids."

    You'll notice that you said some people in corporations. The official stance of the corporation however is not to give everyone a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The only purpose that a corporation has is to make profit. Yes many individuals want to create a better world. Some of those individuals work in corporations. Those individuals should be commended for their forward thinking views.

    The corporation would be pissed if it participated in any community service that did not receive any attention, publicity, mind share, or free advertising. The bricks and stones of a corporation headquarters don't shine a little brighter when it has helped another person.

  • Re:Silly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @02:18AM (#14032662) Journal
    In which case they have open source equivalents on OS X and you can tinker with those.

    The point is that OS X is a unix-based system, shipped with an X implementation AND a load of (closed source) other stuff. All you're doing by not using OS X is removing the 'other stuff'. Look at darwin-ports for the equivalent to apt-get...

    The Mac UI is streets ahead of linux and windows in terms of useability (IMHO, but hell, I'm writing this!), it's been designed with thought for how to make things simple, rather than just available. I think it's a shame that they won't get access to it...

    My personal opinion is that RH put $2M into the project, and don't want someone else's OS running the show, put real or implied pressure on the project heads, and OS X is turned down... The losers are the end-users, in this case...

    Simon
  • Re:free? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dangitman (862676) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @02:24AM (#14032682)
    MIT is not looking for a general purpose operating system, they are looking for a specialized, device specific OS that is open source.

    but why? That doesn't make much sense in the context of this project. if the goal is to help people - why put this software ideology and zealotry ahead of the wants or needs of users?

    Despite all the Mac fanboy protestations, going with OS X would have been a step backwards.

    What the hell does this have to do with "Mac fanboys"? It seems that it is the Open Source fanboys who are damaging this idea by excluding helpful tools, based on their narrow ideology and zealotry. OS X has many advantages. Linux has many advantages. They are not mutually exclusive, if it were not for this ridiculous thinking. Why not allow people to choose? Do poor people have to have their decisions made for them, unlike the lucky wealthy people? Do we know what's best for them? Imperial hubris.

    If your plan is to indoctrinate the developing nations and poorer people through software - then you would be better off not bothering.

  • Re:Silly? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrNiCeGUi (302919) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @02:47AM (#14032757)
    First, OS X is not Unix-based, it's Unix-like, since it's not using officialy licensed Unix code.
    Second, I don't think these laptops will be very powerful, so there's also the question how well would OS X perform on them. With Linux they can use a custom configuration (probably with XFCE) that would be pretty snappy. Getting OS X would be of no use if the system would crawl.
  • $100 lamp? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MacDust (714898) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @03:41AM (#14032919)
    You're not too far off!

    "In one Cambodian village where we have been working, there is no electricity, thus the laptop is, among other things, the brightest light source in the home."
    http://laptop.media.mit.edu/faq.html [mit.edu]

    So this $100 laptop does not necessarily have to be used as a computer.
    Heck, if they can overclock it, maybe it can be a hotplate too!

  • by be-fan (61476) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @03:46AM (#14032937)
    Linux is just as easy to use as OS X (I use both), especially GNOME (which is designed according to many of the principles of classic MacOS). Ease of configuration is irrelevant here --- these will be closed-box systems that come pre-configured. They won't be any different from cell phones that use Linux, in this regard.

    The decision to stick with open source is not a matter of ideology. The whole point of this exercise is to come up with a computer that can be provided to developing nations without "strings attached". That's why they're working so hard on the hardware to get the price down to $100. They're not trying to start a charity to give away computers --- if they were, they could easily use second-hand computers, or donated machines. Using OS X means depending on the charity of Apple. What happens if Apple decides to withdraw support for the program? What happens when new versions of the OS come out --- will Apple provide those for free? Using an OS that isn't tied to a corporation is the only way to deliver these machines the way they want to deliver them.
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @04:00AM (#14032964)
    Now these kids won't get to have Garageband for free, or iPhoto for free, or iMovie and iDVD

    Right, like these apps would run usably on these hundred bucks configs.

    XCode/GCC ships free with OS X, and these kids could have been designing the next great Cocoa apps. Cocoa simply whips the butt of everything

    Narrowminded. You say we shoudln't "force" linux and linux dev tools on them. Instead we should force cocoa on them ? Nice.

    kids will be taught the wrong ways to do things instead of the right ways

    Ok, so your argument is that the osx way is right and the linux way is wrong. Not much to even begin with.

    kids who would actually be interested in Linux and 100% open source would just wipe OS X off the laptop and install Linux

    Actually this is the only argument that makes some sense.

    everybody is a goddamned operating systems kernel engineer instead of a user who wants to get some fucking computer work done

    Well, linux users' majority doesn't even know what the kernel is. They still manage fairly well. You telling that linux usage is all about code hacking then you're only fudding here.

    to feel good about their software freedom

    Actually, telling and informing people in their early computer years about alternatives to MS and Apple is Not A Bad Thing. Teaching them to think outside of the MS and Windows frame actually could lead to some real benefits on the genral OS evolution.

  • by be-fan (61476) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @04:12AM (#14033009)
    You can't fix a country from the bottom up. It's a losing endeavor. Clean water, while a problem, isn't the root cause. It's fine to treat the symptoms, but thinking like "we could supply a family with safe water for years for the price of one computer" is counter-productive. Without that computer, we will have to supply that family with water, permanently.

    Let me tell you a story. There are dams in parts of Bangladesh that are designed to keep out flood waters. Ever year, the government spends money repairing those damns. Every year, many of them fail. Why? The contractors are corrupt --- they never fix the damns completely, because they know if they fail, they'll have more business next year. So what's the solution. To keep patching the damn? Or addressing the corruption?

    Bangladesh has two big problems: political corruption, and economic stagnation. Fix these two, and while the other problems won't magically fall into place, it will allow progress to be made on the rest. One of the best ways to fix these two problems is education. Bangladesh needs to develop a nucleus of talent which can build businesses that can act as the nucleus for economic recovery. Moreover, Bangladesh needs to develop local talent. As it is, large numbers of well-educated people leave the country for Europe or the United States. This drain, in conjunction with the poor economy and poorly-educated populace (along with rather deep-seated cultural issues) is what allows the continuation of the political corruption that strangles the country.

    I say these things as a Bangladeshi who now resides in the United States. Most Bangladeshis, at least the educated ones, will tell you the same thing --- while water safety is a noble endeavor, it's not arsenic that's killing that country.
  • Re:Silly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jasonditz (597385) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @04:16AM (#14033023) Homepage
    So is this laptop going to include some sort of lockout chip whereby it will refuse to run any code that doesn't include source? I have to admit I haven't used red hat in a couple of years, but don't they still include, for example, closed source device drivers and a closed source JDK?

    Assuming the offer of OSX was going to include a free copy of xcode (which seems reasonable), I don't see where the major difference is. Was the well-documented but closed source nature of Aqua really the deal-breaker? And more importantly, is it really fair to assume that all of the impoverished masses of the world are willing to trade Aqua for an inferior performing, but open source alternative?

    Why not offer both, and let the end users decide which they'd rather have? Unless, of course, this isn't really about freedom.

  • by i_am_not_a_bomba (904443) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:02AM (#14033173)
    Hmmm, long winded, strawman filled, misinformed post that is shamelessly pro Apple.

    Mate you *ARE* a slashbot, get over yourself.

  • by Hosiah (849792) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:29AM (#14033263)
    We forget that using a computer is a difficult and even scary experience for the vast majority of folks, particularly those with very little education.

    This fallacy that you cite is at the heart of the whole problem. You know, my daughter is nine, and she's grown up in an all-Linux household. She knows her way around several distos (we have multiple computers) and routinely runs live Linux CDs as well. She uses the whole machine (albeit with a heavy focus on games and educational software), right down to toying with the Python command line occasionally. Mind you, she's still able to use the Windows computers at school, which she sees as almost-acceptable substitutes (she's been heard to complain to the teachers that the computers at school crash, however, stating "They're not supposed to do that.", and expresses disdain for the lack of games that come with a Windows system. OK, I'm proud.). Mind you again, she didn't come to this expertise through having Linux drilled into her head. She just picked it up the way kids pick up anything else, by watching mom and dad. We had Windows on dual-boot on one machine for a long time (it came with one machine which somebody threw away and I brought home and fixed), but she picked Linux over it. I finally deleted Windows when nobody in the household had started it for a year.

    What's our secret? Simply that "It's too hard." are words, more than the seven words you can't say on television, that never pass the lips of her mother and I. It turns out that people have a damn-near-infinite capacity to learn if you simply give them the tools to use, the manuals to read, and don't make a federal case about how hard it is!!!!

    But thank you so much for doing your part to make this world a dumber place. Thank you for spreading the proprietary party-line that we are too stupid to understand computers, and hence are better off being enslaved by those who know the secret. Thank you for discouraging tomorrow's Einstein before he ever got started. Keep on spreading that FUD!!!

  • Re:Silly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @05:39AM (#14033290)
    Who says its the end users doing the tinkering? I'd suggest it was the project developers who want to do the tinkering, such as modifying what apps are on the box as shipped, writing drivers, changing the default settings, the artwork, the remote administration settings and anything else which must be locked down or modified to suit the requirements.

    An analogy would be someone like Netgear who choose Linux to power their ADSL model. I expect they want to tinker with it quite a bit too but it doesn't mean they expect their customers to.

  • In other words.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheHornedOne (50252) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:36AM (#14033422)
    ...instead of getting things done and interacting with the rest of the world, these kids will have the pleasure of fucking around with RPM dependencies and libc incompatibilities. Great, principled move fellas.
  • Indeed, and even Fitt's law says that right here is quicker to get to than the edges of the screen. Thus, we should all be using right-click menus. (They've got other advantages besides.) The common argument that they aren't discoverable is only true so long as most applications don't use them. If they become the default, then people will naturally right-click if they want to see what they can do.

    And you can't just "fling your mouse" anyway, because you have to pick which menu you want, so once you've flung it, you have to re-aim. If (as is common on Windows) you run your windows all maximised anyway, the menubar is just slightly below the top of the screen; the re-aiming needed to find the right menu item isn't a whole lot more than it is on the Mac. The flexibility that per-window and context menus (compared to top-of-screen ones) buy with respect to reducing the distinction between "application" and "window" is also something that must be considered when designing your new GUI.
  • Re:What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by edesjardins (844303) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @09:49AM (#14034061)
    Besides, Red Hat is also donating a couple of million to this project, something which Steve Jobs doesn't seem to be doing
    And how much do you think that all of those copies of Mac OS X that would be given away for free would be valued at?
  • Re:Silly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arminw (717974) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @10:10AM (#14034198)
    .....Or, much more likely, they want to alter it to run well on the extremely unique hardware....

    That is really the bottom line. I hope that these machines turn out to be useable tools for the recipients, no matter what software runs on them. Nothing is more frustrating than a tool that gets in the way of a job that it needs to be used for. Linux is certainly capable of being adapted to this and can be set up to work for the intended recipients. OSX as it is shipped certainly would not work too well on this minimal hardware without some trimming.

    The designers of this system have the same opportunity as Apple does in that they can design the hardware and the software TOGETHER and come up with a useable system. I hope that the money spent on this project will not result in a pile of computers that will not be used, but will bring this modern tool to many.
  • Re:Silly? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mspohr (589790) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @11:30AM (#14034828)
    One of the most important factors in making a computer that people can USE is having it in their own language.

    "Tinkering" with the OS to put it into the local language is very high on the list of mods. Linux already has very many languages supported and this project should stimulate more.

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