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Negroponte says Linux too 'Fat' 839

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-looking-hard-enough dept.
Cadef writes "According to a story on CNet News.com, Nicholas Negroponte says that Linux has gotten too fat, and will have to be slimmed down before it will be practical for the $100 laptop project. From the article: 'Suddenly it's like a very fat person [who] uses most of the energy to move the fat. And Linux is no exception. Linux has gotten fat, too.'"
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Negroponte says Linux too 'Fat'

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  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:54PM (#15096001)
    It's not fat. The architecture is just big-boned.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Seriously, though. If it's too FAT, why doesn't he just switch to ReiserFS? Kids these days don't even know about proper dieting.
    • by hackwrench (573697) <hackwrench@hotmail.com> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:14PM (#15096112) Homepage Journal
      But seriously, it's not fat, it's nerves and muscle, except that the appendages and sensory organs aren't always there to be supported by them.
      • by Lesrahpem (687242) <iadnah@up[ ]klounge.com ['lin' in gap]> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @09:24PM (#15097166) Homepage
        Saying Linux is too fat is like complaining that there are too many pieces in an erector set. You don't have to use what you don't want to.
        • by Crayon Kid (700279) on Monday April 10, 2006 @03:21AM (#15097912)
          Saying Linux is too fat is like complaining that there are too many pieces in an erector set. You don't have to use what you don't want to.

          Exactly. Have those people compiled a kernel lately? Did they notice the modular design and the way you can strip out a lot of things you don't want?

          I run Linux on a 206 MHz handheld with 32 megs of RAM, off a 512 MB flash-card. I use Familiar as a distro and Opie for a desktop environment. I have IR, Bluetooth, Ethernet and WiFi connectivity, I have Opera as a browser and a whole lot of software I can't even begin to name (ipkgfind [handhelds.org] counts 35,000+ packages).

          So what's with this complete bullshit about Linux not being fit for a 500 MHz/ 128 MB RAM machine? Negroponte didn't even support his statement in any way, that phrase you see in the Slashdot summary is all he said in the article too (serves me right for RTFA).

          Don't get tricked into thinking about the regular desktop distro and how to slim it down for the 100$ laptop. There are established handheld distro's out there for which the specs of the 100$ laptop would be an upgrade, that's what they should go with. Think bottom up, not the other way around.
    • by Skevin (16048) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:18PM (#15096124) Journal
      Actually, they misspelled Phat.

      Yo listen, every OS be Phat at one time or 'notha. But 'fore you know it, some geek brotha's gonna write some crappy-ass P.O.S. code fo' yo momma's script kiddies to pop a cap through, you dig? Then da top dog homies gotta post patches, like, before security be worse than ma 'hood. When ya got too many security patches to hang with, yo homies start pointin' yo fingas at da mofos what like wrote da Operatin' System ta begin with, accusin' dem of being da Man and shit. Soon "da Man" is gotta atone by releasin' a pimped out kernel and it starts all ova again. Ain't long before all yas be dissin' Linus or Bill or Theo, demandin' dey pay ya yo props before their Operatin' Systems come crawlin' back on yas computas like last month's biatch. Word.

      "'cept in France, it ain't called a 2.6 kernel... They call it Windows."
      (apologies to Samuel L. Jackson)

      Solomon Chang
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:04PM (#15096342)
      Linux responded to Negroponte by saying "I may be fat, but you're ugly and I can lose weight!"
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:55PM (#15096006)
    no-one's expecting you to install all of Debian on them, just get the basics on. Sheesh, DSL is great for low powered machines with small hard disks...
    • fortuantely even DSL needs at least 128MB of RAM to be effective. While these laptops might have that, there are many computers like 486's that might otherwise be able to surf the web, but Firefox is a RAM hog and makes any system with less than 128MB suffer.
    • by vhogemann (797994) <victor@noSpAM.hogemann.com> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:19PM (#15096646) Homepage
      While DSL is fine for the regular hacker, I dont know if a 10 year old will be confortable with it...

      I guess that what Negroponte was really trying to say is: "KDE an GNOME are too fat for a 500MHz computer with 128MB RAM and only 512MB of storage". And, lets face it, hes right.

      Now, this raises a really good point. If he, or someone else, manages to fit a full desktop environment within this U$100 Notebook specs, Ill be using it on my desktop too!

      Not that I dont like KDE or GNOME, quite the contrary, I found them better than Windows in many ways... But they just have grown fat, I remember being able to run KDE2 on a Pentium 166 MMX with 46MB RAM! And even back then, KDE was pretty capable... much more than Windows95 for example.

      Of course now we have much better computers, and the programmers are just using this extra computer power and memory that otherwise would be wasted... But it wouldn't be cool if we managed to build a full featured desktop environment without depending on so much power? Because if we manage to do so, there will be much more remaining cpu cycles to waste with eye candy :-)

      Just my $0,02
      • by debiansid (881350) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @11:11PM (#15097392) Homepage
        I guess that what Negroponte was really trying to say is: "KDE an GNOME are too fat for a 500MHz computer with 128MB RAM and only 512MB of storage". And, lets face it, hes right.

        Use XFCE. XFCE is a very fast desktop environment; I use it on my old system which has the following specs:
        • Celerom 500 MHz
        • 128 MB RAM
        • 10 GB HDD


        Thats around the same specs as the $100 laptop isn't it? The storage is very low but XFCE is barely 40-50 MB so that's ok too.

        Or just put in Blackbox as the window manager for a completely stripped down Gnome or KDE subsystem. The whole point of the $100 laptop is to provide basic computing power for those who cannot afford it. So in that sense if the hardware is tuned down, even the software needs to obviously be tuned down.
    • WTF is DSL? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @10:21PM (#15097293)
      I wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't heard about it; I hadn't heard of it. You could have mentioned that DSL stands for Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org], a 50 MB desktop Linux distribution intended for use on a business card PCs, flash drives and other small portable media.
  • DSL? (Score:5, Informative)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:55PM (#15096009) Journal
    Has he not tried Damn Small Linux... it is pretty small, doesn't really seem to be "too fat", it even works on my OLD laptop with its 167MHz processor and nearly no RAM
  • by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp&gmail,com> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:56PM (#15096021) Homepage
    Linus has gotten a little chunkier over the years too, so it makes sense.
  • by Azarael (896715) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:57PM (#15096030) Homepage
    Otherwise, for what the $100 laptop will get used for, probably 80% of the tools and apps can be removed. I'm sure that something like gentoo or one of the other distros with a live cd + X.org, would work just fine.
  • by moro_666 (414422) <kulminaator.gmail@com> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:58PM (#15096035) Homepage
    i started hacking on linux around 7 years ago. rh 7.2 was the word. kernel compilation was quite easy, a few items to say N and some to say M to, to get your oracle and apache and modperl running.

      install something now, you'll see 10203 dependancy packages hanging around, and 20406 items in the kernel choices that you have to say N to. and when some packages in your linux distro are broken, well tough luck mofo.

    sure expanding stuff is fun, but it is becoming a burden, one that consumes too much of my time and too much of my network. perhaps it's time to just cut things off into an "internal and external" layer in the kernel ? meaning move optional modules and stuff into other distribution methods ? there's no reason for 99% of users to download and disable the code for amateur radios etc.

      i played around with freebsd for half a year, and it's default install cleanness and the ease of kernel configuration just amazed me.

      i vot for a cleaner linux core and cleaner gnu/linux core packages. do you ?
    • by corrosive_nf (744601) <corrosive23@gmail.com> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:03PM (#15096056)
      Exactly. There are distros that install 5-6 window managers, 5 different text editors, mutiple multimedia players, and thats insane. Then when anyone says that they shouldnt, all the opensource freaks run around screaming about choice!
      • I'm one of these screaming about choice.

        If you feel that one app fits all for a given task (something that is rarely true in my experience), go along and install just one app per task. But leave us the choices 1)to decide WHICH app to install for a given task and 2)to install more than one, if I feel to. I agree with reasonable defaults for newbies, but I don't agree with self castration.

      • There are distros that install 5-6 window managers, 5 different text editors, mutiple multimedia players, and thats insane

        Until recently I would have agreed. I was pretty consciencious about removing unused packages etc. Then recently at work a tech set up a RHEL laptop for me. I was surprised how few additional apps I had to install, and it was nice. Are there 1000s of unused apps on there? Yep. But I can't seem to remember why I should care. 5 GB of disk space is a few pennies, it isn't worth the

    • by EverDense (575518) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:24PM (#15096416) Homepage
      Redhat 7.2, Luxury!

      In my day, we had to download linux onto floppy disks over a 2400 baud modem connection. We'd start downloading 5 hours before we went to bed, eat a cup of cold gravel, work 32 hours down the mine, and when we got home our fathers would whip us within an inch of our lives, and then if we were lucky, the download was finished.
      • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:28PM (#15096437)
        In my day, we had to download linux onto floppy disks over a 2400 baud modem connection. We'd start downloading 5 hours before we went to bed, eat a cup of cold gravel, work 32 hours down the mine, and when we got home our fathers would whip us within an inch of our lives, and then if we were lucky, the download was finished.

        And it STILL got done before Gentoo.

  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:58PM (#15096036) Homepage
    Just strip out some of the useless crap like foreign language support and make everyone learn English. That should save a few megabytes...

    Now, where were we going to be sending these laptops again?

    (Seriously, I don't see the problem... not only is the code open so you can delete what you want but nearly everything has a multitude of options to disable large chunks of functionality to make it smaller at will, modularity at it's best. There are a few things that it would be fair to level the criticism at (OO.o for example) but on the whole most Linux software is pretty good - good enough to cram the essentials onto a USB drive at least.)
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:58PM (#15096037) Journal
    on Linux. You can strip it down pretty damn small. Just build a complete custom distro just for the laptop.
  • by liliafan (454080) * on Sunday April 09, 2006 @03:59PM (#15096046) Homepage
    If they want it smaller, they can make it smaller, if they are talking just linux, then it is the kernel by the time you remove everything you don't need it is pretty damn smaller, if they are refering to the distro, roll your own you have developed your own hardware platform you can roll a nice small linux distro to fit on it, it can be as small or large as required.
  • by mrraven (129238) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:06PM (#15096068)
    People starving in Africa don't need laptops, they need basic infrastructure like clean water.
    Where this might be useful though is parts of highly impoverished rural America like parts of say Alabama, West Virginia, inland Oregon, etc. These are areas where people are genuinely strapped for cash and a 100 dollar good to go laptop might be genuinely useful, most particularly for kids in school, being portable. Yes the geeks among the rural population might be able to build a better computer cheaper, but lets be realistic that's what maybe 10% of the population?

    Don't think there aren't areas in the U.S. that don't look like the 3rd world with shacks, and trailer homes, there are, I've lived there and those people need help too.
    • by gnud (934243) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:27PM (#15096167)
      You may be right, peple starving in Africa is not in need of laptops. But you are aware there are millions of people in africa not starving, right?
    • by caffeination (947825) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:37PM (#15096216)
      Another ignorant prat...

      It's not a project to relieve poverty in the poorest of the poor countries. It's a project to provide an educational laptop to children in developing countries.

      There is a big difference, but Slashdot as a whole (if such a concept is valid) seems not grasp it yet.

  • by narfbot (515956) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:07PM (#15096072)
    I have slackware-current, yes, CURRENT running on a 486 DX 33 laptop, 12 MB of RAM, 200 MB HD. It even runs X, python, gcc. Kernel version 2.6.14. It supports wireless with native drivers too. This is probably way under powered for what they are considering for the $100 laptop; so I know they can do far more. Trust me, they can really do whatever they want with linux.
    • He's partnered with Red Hat to provide software. A distribution so big it's now unweildy to install from CDROM. Even if you say you only want KDE, you'll still get Gnome whether you want it or not.

      So of course he's going to gripe about bloat. He's starting from one of the fattest Linux distributions around.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:10PM (#15096088)
    .. my friggin ADSL modem runs linux and a web server. My friggin modem!

    I mean, come on, it's like, I don't know, based on Apple II or a pocket calculator processor with, uhmm, like 100-200kb RAM or something? dunno, but it was cheaper than $100 and it's friggin modem.

    A friggin modem... a fri.. a fr..

    Oh ok... I rest my case anyways.

    Linux isn't fat, most popular distros are, but noone forces people to use them.
  • Patently untrue! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kimvette (919543) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:12PM (#15096096) Homepage Journal
    This is SOOO untrue. Linux is only as fat as you can make it.

    Every time I see someone complaining "Linux is slow" or "Distribution Foo is bloated" I remind them that their system is bloated because they CHOSE to install unnecessary services (You're running MySQL, PostgreSQL, PostFix, Apache, Subversion, DHCPD, BIND. and everything else available in the distro? You have Composite enabled with KDE with ALL eye candy turned on and every SuperKaramba theme you could get your hands on? You're running a non-SMP kernel on that shiny dual core processor?

    Let me tell you something: I still run dual Celeries and dual Pentium II Xeons at my office - and they're going to be wiped soon and be reinstalled with bare KDE installations for use as CSR workstations, probably with build server and 3D rendering daemons to take advantage of spare CPU cycles should we need it (those will be off by default of course). Even with full installations those machines are all mighty responsive. I don't turn on eye candy, Postfix, MySQL, apache, etc. remain turned off unless absolutely needed for testing a web or other application locally, and superkaramba is not installed.

    Now, I've tried complete installations (installing EVERYTHING on Mandriva, SuSE, and other distributions) one weekend out of morbid curiousity and yes, it gets piggish, and composite made it absolutely unbearable, but I wanted to see just how much those boxes could take before Linux became unstable -- plus I wanted to have easy access to all apps because there are many, MANY Linux apps I've never even tried. And wouldn't you know it, the systems did not become unstable, but just painfully slow. That's an extreme case, but obviously it wasn't the fault of Linux that I chose to do something that many newbies do because they think it might be convenient.

    Linux isn't bloated in and of itself. It's used in many embedded devices where CPU cycles, memory, and storage are all scarce. When designing embedded systems the engineers select only the bare essentials to get the job done - check out Snapgear (now Cyberguard SG) routers, some of LinkSys' routers, and Zaurus PDAs. Check out any number of the latest-generation cellular telephones, most notably Nokia's and Motorola's. Check out Tivo.

    Not a lot of CPU power in many of those, and yet they do their jobs very, VERY well.

    My own desktop is a little slow due to the ATI video card (video is a big bottleneck on ATI with Xinerama - I keep sticking with the AiW card in the hope that X.org's integrated Gato drivers will eventually work) but the other desktop boxes in the office are NVidia and they absolutely fly (in terms of responsiveness), despite having more toys enabled than my box, and all having slower CPUs than my system. Heck, even the dual Pentium II Xeon with NVidia card is more responsive than my system. When I switch to a single-head configuration my system is plenty fast. Even with Xinerama, Linux is more responsive than Windows is on my box.

    Linux isn't bloated. It all comes down to configuration, user error, and to a lesser extent, hardware choices (imho, ATI cards should be avoided if you run a dual-head system).

    By your argument, Windows bloated if you base your judgement on an OEM who installed a ton of eye candy, or if you installed something like WinFX, Desktop Sidebar, SpyderBar, or other CPU-sucking toys. Windows by itself with unnecessary services disabled is not bloated, and on the same token neither is Linux.

    Want a nice responsive system? Install what you need, and either disable or don't install what you don't need. Forget about eye candy. SuperKaramba isn't a necessity. Install the right kernel for your processor (in the case of dual core systems, the SMP kernel is the right choice - or for a single-core processor with hyperthreading, an SMT-aware SMP kernel is the right choice).
  • not the subject (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xzvf (924443) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:13PM (#15096104)
    I was at the speech. The lecture was not about Microsoft not being cheap enough or Linux being too fat. It's about getting an educational tool that is a replacement for textbooks and a suppliment for six grade educated teachers. All the press I've seen on this takes the quips and jokes and makes them the subject for tha articles. How about someone in the press talking about the other 95% of the presentation. The fact the technology can be deployed at a reasonable cost. The need for content development. The mesh networking. The need for the inexpensive village server and internet connectivity. Ways to effencently power the devices..... Something of substance.
    • Re:not the subject (Score:3, Insightful)

      by westlake (615356)
      The fact the technology can be deployed at a reasonable cost. The need for content development. The mesh networking. The need for the inexpensive village server and internet connectivity. Ways to effencently power the devices..... Something of substance.

      Let's talk substance.

      The Simputer also began as a well-hyped charitable project, an attempt to bring the computer to the third-world masses. It didn't quite work out that way.

      I think it is fair to ask whether Negroponte's estimates are realistic.

      The lap

    • Re:not the subject (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shankland (876228) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @11:02PM (#15097376)
      I'm the author of the CNET News.com story in question. If you read beyond the opening lines about Linux being too bloated--which by the way also was how Negroponte opened his speech and an interesting tidbit, in my opinion--you find information on some of the 95% of the speech you say was missing. You will see other information about mesh networking, $100 servers, pedal power, a launch delay, the initial $135 price, the dual-mode monitor, and other items. Stephen Shankland stephen.shankland at cnet dot com
  • W.T.F? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ENOENT (25325) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:14PM (#15096111) Homepage Journal
    Um, I run Linux on a laptop with a 500 MHz processor and 128 MB RAM.

    As long as you're not running Eclipse or OpenOffice, it's Good Enough (TM) to get work done.

  • by penguin-collective (932038) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:24PM (#15096153)
    In fact, Linux with a full GUI runs fine on a machine 1/4 the speed and memory of Negroponte's design.

    Maybe what he means is that Gnome and KDE require more memory and CPU power than that; well, they do: the features users apparently demand (vector graphics, theming, animation, translucency, etc.) just require a lot of CPU power. That's not Linux getting "too fat", it's Linux following the desktop mainstream, which is what a lot of people apparently want.

    It's a serious problem when the self-styled designer of a $100 laptop can't figure out how to even pick an existing Linux distribution that runs on a 500MHz ARM with 128M of memory. But Negroponte's skill has always been more talk than technology, I suppose.
  • by Erik Hensema (12898) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:28PM (#15096173) Homepage

    He's wrong.

    Both software and hardware grow. Software grows in terms of functionality, hardware grows in terms of speed, memory size, etc. Software and hardware need to match. Don't run slackware 2.0 on your shiny new dual core athlon 64. Don't run KDE or gnome on that old 486 you found in the basement.

    So Negroponte creates a low cost laptop. Good. Now he tries to fit contemporary software on it. He finds it doesn't work. Does that make the software bloated? No. The software just doesn't match the hardware.

    People tend to forget how slow old hardware really was. Don't you remember visible slowness in scrolling on 8086 hardware in text mode? Don't you remember how long Wordperfect took to start up? Big&bloated Microsoft Word starts in under 2 seconds on modern hardware.

    You probably don't remember. That's why modern software seems so incredibly slow on old hardware. That's just because the hardware is old.

    Of course some software is bloated. Openoffice is extremely slow in comparison to Microsoft Office, while even lacking features (wether you want those features is open to another debate). KDE applicates take too long to start up (while their speed when stated up is good).

    My point is: software is not bloated. Software is designed to run on contemporary software. Which in this day and age is >= 2 Ghz, >= 512 MB ram, >= 200 GB harddisk, fast GPU w/ >= 64 MB ram. That's a lot faster than the $100 laptop.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:05PM (#15096345)
      You aren't kidding. I remember back in the 486 days, I had a slower 486 that was RAM starved for a long time and damn with Windows programs. I'd start Works to write a paper and wander off to the kitchen to grab a snack while it loaded. A 2 minute process at least. Now at work I expect it to be up instantly. Even on a cold boot when it's not cached it's like 3 seconds until it's loaded. Printing was even worse, it took forever for the system to get all the data ready for the printer and it was all you could do, you couldn't multitask. I'd start a paper printing and go elsewhere. Now, hell I submit a 40 page job to the copier and it's in the tray before I have time to walk over there.

      I remember screwing around with MP3s not too long after they came out. I had done some upgrades at that point and was tinkering with Windows 95 and it turned out that it ate too much power for me to play MP3s. Mono was ok, but stereo skipped. I had to drop to DOS and use Cubic Player to get full stereo 128k MP3s. It was just all my system could handle. Now I play them in the background when I want, and they use maybe 10 seconds of CPU time per hour on one of my cores, it's just not even significant.

      I could go on and on, but in essence it's changed from me sitting and waiting on my computer to it always waiting on me. There are very, very few tasks I do that take enough time I need to sit and wait, and even then it still multi-tasks fine and I can surf the web while that happens.

      The problem is that Negroponte seems to have billed this thing as a legit replacement to a normal laptop. On the page it says:

      "What can a $1000 laptop do that the $100 version can't?
      Not much. The plan is for the $100 Laptop to do almost everything. What it will not do is store a massive amount of data."

      Ok well that's pretty clearly BS. Store large amounts of data is ONE OF the things the $100 laptop won't do, but there's plenty of others. Run a fancy GUI like KDE would be another one, have 10 apps open multitasking would be another. Now it's perfectly legit to say these things aren't necessary in a cheap laptop, but they ARE things that people expect out of computers these days.

      I figured it was just over-marketing (I mean who doesn't do that) but it's possible that he really thought he could get a full featured Linux distro on his little laptop and is now finding out that's not the case. His statement of "Today's laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third" just isn't the case. He may be finding that out, to his disappointment.
      • Obviously this device has been designed for distribution in countries where people have no expectations of using "computers these days" in their lifetime, by Negroponte's own admission and enthusiasm. But it's not the case that getting a full featured desktop is impossible. 128 is a bit light on RAM, but 192 plus swap wasn't awful on my computer running GNOME or KDE a few years back. I'd expect they could chop together something a bit lighter than either of those without sacrificing much. A couple of small
    • This mentality, while pervasive among supposed computer experts, is entirely untrue. Software is bloated. These days, hardware is getting so big and fast that programmers don't have to optimize their software to cram functionality into something that will run decently (resulting in a better program). We don't need this new hardware; there simply isn't enough human need for functionality to take advantage of it. Instead of cramming functionality, the programmers take up every ounce of system resources they c

  • by jg (16880) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:35PM (#15096203) Homepage
    He chose the word "fat"; I'd use the word "bloated".

    Too many applications are hemmorraging memory. e.g. Firefox, skype,

    Too many applications are just plain huge; e.g. Open Office.

    Too many applications do plain stupid things, like leak pixmaps in the X Window server.

    Too many applications link against libraries they don't even use, causing
    gratuitous references to them, and slower startup times.

    People have become downright sloppy. Our systems, even with .5 gig of RAM like my laptop, have to swap things out due to this sort of sloppyness. This should just not be necessary.

    If you ever wondered why our intereactive response is unpredictable, just consider what happens if you have to start waiting on disk drives to page things out and in.

    This is (mostly) fixable, if we just buckle down and realize we have a problem
    that needs to be fixed.
                                                      Jim Gettys
                                                      OLPC
  • Argh no handcrank! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:36PM (#15096214)
    The article says that the crank is gone. That was the coolest thing about the device! I guess some kind of foot pump thing might do as well but there was something intrinsically appealing about a device that was self-contained without any dangling doohickeys.
  • by drwho (4190) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @04:41PM (#15096239) Homepage Journal
    Linux doesn't have to be fat, it can be slimmed. That's how it runs on embedded systems. THe problem is X is huge, and not just the core X but once you add all of the things people expect, it takes a lot of ram and disk space.

    There are alternative windowing system to X. The problem is, last I looked, none of them have gained much traction, and I believe this is because Mozilla won't work on them. So, someone needs to port Mozilla to their favorite X alternative. This is something that someone with tons of money, publicity, and connections like Negro Ponte can do.
    • Linux doesn't have to be fat, it can be slimmed. That's how it runs on embedded systems. THe problem is X is huge, and not just the core X but once you add all of the things people expect, it takes a lot of ram and disk space.

      The oft trotted out complaint that X is behind all the problems. I hate to break it to you but X is actually quite small if required, and highly adaptable. X is actually used for embedded systems, precisely because it is small (or can be made small). Here's a nice article on X and GTK+ [bluemug.com]
  • It's an excuse. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ankarbass (882629) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:23PM (#15096412)
    Microsoft wants in and that's what this is all about. Read the article. He states he's working with microsoft and they're going to make a winCE version for the hardware. Microsoft wants in on it if only just to keep any largescale linux project from being successful.

    I suspect that this is just the preliminary announcement and the real anouncement forthcoming is that Microsoft will be providing the operating system.

  • System specs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EdMcMan (70171) <moo.slashdot2.z.edmcman@xoxy.net> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:37PM (#15096468) Homepage Journal
    The system will use a 500MHz processor from Advanced Micro Devices with 128MB of memory. It will use 512MB of flash memory and no hard drive, he said. The biggest remaining cost is the display.

    Before RTFA, I thought they were talking about the kernel. Clearly based on the flash drive size, what they mean is just the size of having so many libraries that often do the same thing!

    I am somewhat skeptical of there being a real problem, though. Knoppix fits many, many things on 700MB using compression. Many of the things that Knoppix includes would probably not be much use for the laptops, such a development tools. The nice thing about "Linux" (being purposely vague as the article) is that you can choose what "Linux" is. If you don't like something, take it out!

    It is interesting to note that they mentioned they are currently working with Microsoft to modify Windows CE to operate on the laptop.
  • by Maljin Jolt (746064) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:48PM (#15096519) Journal
    The weakest two of my 20+ Linux machines are a 486SX/8MB and P166/16MB, both a laboratory notebooks, with X11/fluxbox (640x400x16/grey and 800x600xcolor) and networking and pretty lot of lab equipment on parallel and USB ports, not just some tiny consoleless routers. That's order of 1000 in scale of spec comparision with my hugest desktop. My iPaq runs Linux from 64MB internal flash and my Jornada from a 512 CF card, both supporting a big assortment of CF and PCMCIA stuff and outperforming original WinCE.

    I am rather asking, why is Negroponte saying such nonsense that Linux is fat? $100 project has 128MB RAM/512MB flash. I believe I could seriously run xen with 20 linuxes on it.
  • by Yonder Way (603108) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @05:49PM (#15096523)
    ...why not start from something skinny and build up from there?

    I've regularly gotten OpenBSD to fit very nicely into a 500MB drive with room to spare. I'm sure it could be squeezed down to about 200M or so if you left out the compilers.
  • by dtfinch (661405) * on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:18PM (#15096643) Journal
    Excerpt from http://www.minix3.org/ [minix3.org]
    MINIX 3 is initially targeted at the following areas:

            * Applications where very high reliability is required
            * Single-chip, small-RAM, low-power, $100 laptops for Third-World children
            * Embedded systems (e.g., cameras, DVD recorders, cell phones)
            * Applications where the GPL is too restrictive (MINIX 3 uses a BSD-type license)
            * Education (e.g., operating systems courses at universities)
  • The Problem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:04PM (#15096795) Homepage
    Here's the problem:

    http://wiki.laptop.org/wiki/One_Laptop_per_Child#T he_software [laptop.org]

    Their software partner is RedHat. I have much respect for RedHat - they have done amazing things for enterprise grade support of our beloved Penguin. But they are not lightweight. RedHat hasn't ever been about lightweight. That's not a condemnation, it's just not their area of expertise. I don't know if it's possible to break that tie to RedHat, or to get RedHat to agree to base the distro on something other than RedHat, but as long as square one is RedHat/Fedora, it is not going to work.
  • biword (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Liam Slider (908600) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:19PM (#15096834)

    Yes, commercial Linux distributions are fat (although not in comparison to any other mainstream user OS)....if you go with default installs and the most bloated applications avaliable. However for his project it is entirely possible to trim down and remain highly functional. A lightweight, yet attractive and relatively easy to use WM like windowmaker, or icewm, are perfectly capable and work well for what he wants to do.There are lightweight yet capable word processing and other standalone office applications, like Abiword...which can take the place of Open Office in most cases. Email, basic photo viewing and manipulation, web browsing....all have light weight applications avaliable for them that'll do a fair job.

    He's just bitching because his $100 laptop can't use the cool eyecandy filled environments with the exact same application base as most modern expensive computers....and still fit the hardware footprint and budget. He wants the magic GNU Fairy to come and sprinkle pixy dust and wave a magic wand and instantly make Firefox, OO, KDE, and GNOME run on his hardware requirements.

    • Re:biword (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Deliveranc3 (629997)
      Why do people assume he needs to scale back all the way.

      The truth is his hardware will all be IDENTICAL

      Now think about that, Linux puts every single driver you could need INTO it's DISTROs.

      That has to go, the graphics will always be (vga? Whatever low colour) 800x600 so no scaling or fancy fonts etc.

      It might be faster to run a rendered jpg as the desktop :P

      I think they'll probably end up with something like enlightenment, good performance and pretty (once you get it working).

      Just think of all th
  • by layer3switch (783864) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:30PM (#15096855)
    "I was the longest holdout for the crank being on the laptop. I was wrong," he said, adding, "If you're a 10-year-old, maybe you can get your four-year-old to pedal for you."

    Evidently he's not complaining about just kernel being fat...
  • by MrLizardo (264289) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @08:11PM (#15096979) Journal
    OpenEmbedded [handhelds.org] has exactly what he wants. My Sharp Zaurus C-1000, running OpenZaurus (built from the OE build system) has: a real x server, pretty desktop icons, gaim, abiword, gqview gaim, sylpheed, some games, an ebook reader, gftp, firefox and some other programs. All this takes up ~90MB flash. Also, the system is fairly comfortable to use even with only 64MB of RAM. I did setup swap on an SD card but that only gets hit when firefox and something else are running at the same time. With 128MB of RAM and a leaner browser (galeon or epiphany maybe?) I don't see a reason to use swap.
    If I was interested in a lightweight, maintainable Linux distro for this project, I'd make sure that the OE devs got hooked up with a development system (or :gasp: even *hired* to put prioritize OLPC support). Just my $.02 -Mr. Lizard
  • That depends... (Score:3, Informative)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @08:15PM (#15096986) Homepage Journal
    ...on whether Negreponte is a novice or not. If he is, then yes, he's very possibly out of luck, since software designed for novices needs more functions by definition, and thus, has to be bigger.

    If on the other hand he already knows a thing or two, (or isn't afraid of learning) then he will find that minimalistic systems are actually one of Linux's primary strengths, at least in my observation. He could probably use this [damnsmalllinux.org] as a base, and then for X use apt-get to install ROX [sourceforge.net] Filer, metacity [gnome.org], (as a background for ROX) and fbpanel [sourceforge.net] as his start menu. Or, if he wants most of that done for him, he could install FVWM [fvwm.org] instead of metacity and fbpanel, and still use ROX as an explorer clone. Mind you, this is only one possible option, and most people reading this would probably think I'm insane and ask why I don't simply advocate fluxbox/xfce etc. This is a problem with myriad possible solutions.

    He'd probably also need to install gtk for Abiword etc, but that doesn't necessarily have to be a problem. There are also any number of lightweight image viewers around as well...he should check freshmeat [freshmeat.net]. For web browsing, there's also dillo [dillo.org].

    Hence, what he wants is more than possible. He might have to do a bit of surfing, but then again, with the magic of apt-get, he probably doesn't even need to do that.
  • Opposites attract (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davmoo (63521) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @08:41PM (#15097058)
    Its only natural that Linux is too fat for that $100 laptop. Because that $100 laptop is so thin it doesn't even exist yet. When someone shows working hardware, then Linux can be shaved down appropriately.

    I get a kick out of these stories. If this were Microsoft talking about a $100 laptop, everyone in Slashdot would be downing them because its vaporware at this point. But since its *not* Microsoft, its Way Cool and everyone acts like its the discovery of the fucking Holy Grail, the Second Coming of Christ, and secret documents about aliens stored at Roswell all rolled in to one.

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