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First of the OLPCs Built 145

Posted by Zonk
from the little-windup-that-could dept.
eldavojohn writes "An announcement came Sunday that the first ten prototypes of the Linux-powered OLPC XO-1 had been completed in China. From the article, 'Quanta, the Chinese computer maker that won the international bidding for the project earlier this year, will assemble 900 OLPC machines that will be used for destructive testing and distribution to our development partners.' Let's hope that these first prototypes do not warrant any design changes and that the testing goes well so that countries that expressed interest (Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Argentina, and Thailand) can start distributing them soon."
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First of the OLPCs Built

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  • It's worth noting... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @11:19AM (#16837906) Journal
    Not that this project had any lack of vapor already, but it's worth noting that the Thai government that vaguely signed on to this project over the summer was overthrown in a military coup a few weeks later. We'll see how high a priority this is for the new guy.

    Those of you who were hailing Khaddafi's deep commitment to freedom when he jumped aboard will be relieved to know that he's not going anywhere anytime soon, though...

  • Am I evil for looking forward to picking up my OLPC on the black market (or eBay)?

    If I am, I blame the hand crank and high-res black-and-white screen mode for greasing my slide into the dark side...

    DN
    • by notthe9 (800486)
      Last I heard, rich, 1st-world type folks are supposed to be able to buy them for $200.
      • Last I heard, I thought it was $300, as in "buy one for yourself, buy two for children." But it's also proven to be more than $100 to make, so if the deal is still on, that price may go up.
        • by Teancum (67324)
          BTW, the petition to purchase the laptop for $300 failed to get enough signatures, but there was a pretty large (> 15000 signatures) support base for the idea. And that was for people who were willing to make a stand on an insignificant and poorly advertised web page for something that may not even happen even if all the signatures came in that were needed.

          The OLPC organizers have said that they will not sell this computer to private individuals. The $300 figure is just a number pulled out of the air a
    • I hope this poster [slashdot.org] is right, that they market this to non-third-worlders at x2 or x3 of the price to cover a donation of one or two of them to a participating country. Get a cheap, versatile, low-power-consumption computer, and change a few kids lives forever. Sign me up! (And I'm on the more misanthropic side...)
    • by risk one (1013529)
      Sorry to disappoint you, Anakin, but they ditched the handcrank about a year ago. The plastic body of the laptop couldn't take the repeated stress. It does have cute bunny-like wifi ears.

      And there are plans to sell them commercially for three times the regular price, and pump the profit back into the charity program, so you won't have to buy the thing in eBay for $1000.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dead nancy (239321)
        Found this in the OLPCWiki:

        Will OLPC spin-off a commercial subsidiary?
        The idea is that a commercial subsidiary could manufacture and sell a variation of the OLPC in the developed world. These units would be marked up so that there would be a significant profit which can be plowed into providing more units in countries who cannot afford the full cost of one million machines.
        The discussions around this have talked about a retail price of 3× the cost price of the units.


        http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Our_marke [laptop.org]
      • And there are plans to sell them commercially for three times the regular price, and pump the profit back into the charity program, so you won't have to buy the thing in eBay for $1000.

        Wrong. There are no plans to sell these on the open market in any way whatsoever. Many people have suggested a one-for-two or one-for-three, but the people behind the project have consistently stated that this will not happen.

        I'd like to get my hands on one, as I believe that as a low-power entry-level laptop it should fo

        • by Vellmont (569020)
          Many people have suggested a one-for-two or one-for-three, but the people behind the project have consistently stated that this will not happen.

          If that's true, it's the first dumb decision I've heard come out of this project. Bill Gates stated that the major cost of the laptop would be software. In the absence of open source developers, he's right. There's some ability to take software for existing high-lowered linux machines, but it certainly won't be as good without developers being able to run it on
          • There's some ability to take software for existing high-lowered linux machines, but it certainly won't be as good without developers being able to run it on the actual machine.

            A) How much software do they need?

            B) Part of the point of the project is to create a new technologically-literate generation. If we write all the software for them, what incentive is there for them to build up their own coding skills?

            C) The developed world is acculturated to a particular tradition of code and interface design whi

            • by Vellmont (569020)

              A) How much software do they need?

              I don't know how much they need, or even what that question really means (software isn't like apples where it's all the same and you order it by the pound). My guess is there's going to be requests for software to do Thing X, or if only Program Z had feature Y. That's no different than how people use software right now.

              B) Part of the point of the project is to create a new technologically-literate generation. If we write all the software for them, what incentive is there
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Wrong.(Don't ya hate it when people correct you this way!)

          From http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Our_market [laptop.org]

          Will OLPC spin-off a commercial subsidiary?

          The idea is that a commercial subsidiary could manufacture and sell a variation of the OLPC in the developed world. These units would be marked up so that there would be a significant profit which can be plowed into providing more units in countries who cannot afford the full cost of one million machines.

          The discussions around this have talked about a retail price of
        • by carpeweb (949895)
          Even if there were plans to sell these commercially, the non-manufacturing costs (see my post, above) would probably require a much greater markup. Right now, they are "selling" them to single buyers in quantities of a million or more. Think about how much higher the per-unit costs will be for marketing and distribution if they sell them one at a time. Even ebay doesn't have zero selling costs, and ebay doesn't usually include free shipping.
          • by ccp (127147)
            Think about how much higher the per-unit costs will be for marketing and distribution if they sell them one at a time.

            Let me guess...Near zero?

            Put a web site, process credit cards, and I will gladly pay for shipping, and even throw a fiver for the tip.
            And, if it's not enough and you want to make some extra change sell them for $200. At that price point, who cares?

            Cheers,
            CC
            • by carpeweb (949895)
              I will gladly pay for shipping

              I wasn't asking who would pay; I was asking how much it would cost. My original point was that the governments who are buying these appear to be footing most or all of the costs except for direct manufacturing, hiding the obvious fact that the true cost of the OLPC is far higher than $100. I realize that some costs can be driven down on a per-unit basis with high volume, but even that can't eliminate shipping, customer support and other things that happen on a per-customer ba
              • by ccp (127147)

                I realize that some costs can be driven down on a per-unit basis with high volume, but even that can't eliminate shipping, customer support and other things that happen on a per-customer basis. Even if you personally only need shipping, the average customer needs a certain amount of marketing and after-market support, which is still part of the average cost.

                Well, let's put it this way: if the OLPC is willing to sell me 1K laptops at $100 every month, I'm buying them. I can sell that number with almost no ov

  • At least one terrorist video will reveal a OLPC in the background.
    • Certain computer companies using this as an excuse to push a law through congress that outlaws the distribution of OLPC computers and declares countries that participate in the OLPC project as terrorist states.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @11:22AM (#16837954)
    Again, Linux uses its monopoly position in the free-OS market to stomp on Corporate America. Companies such as Microsoft cannot compete with the hippy OS because they have employees to pay, hardware to buy, and general overhead that any company has and cannot compete with Linux which is put together in a COMMUNIST style by a bunch of long-haired (Alex, RMS) free-thinkers.
    This monopoly position must be dealt with to level the playing field so that American companies (not the Finnish) can pass more of their profits on to people like you and I who hold shares in their retirement portfolios.

    TDz.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Monopoly in the free OS business? I know you're trying to be funny, but have you forgotten about BSD?
      • What is this "BSD" that you speak of? I suspect you're just making stuff up, trying to be funny. I've never heard of "BSD", and I'll bet no one else here has either.
    • by rsborg (111459)
      Again, Linux uses its monopoly position in the free-OS market to stomp on Corporate America. Companies such as Microsoft cannot compete with the hippy OS because they have employees to pay, hardware to buy, and general overhead that any company has and cannot compete with Linux which is put together in a COMMUNIST style by a bunch of long-haired (Alex, RMS) free-thinkers.
      LOL, I just imagined Stephen Colbert doing that monologue on his show. Nice :-)
    • Companies such as Microsoft cannot compete with the hippy OS

      Damn it, Linux might be a lot of things, but it isn't fat.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @11:38AM (#16838156) Homepage Journal
    1) give computer to child
    2) come back in a week

    If computer survives AND the kid didn't get bored with it, the test passes.

    ---
    It's lame but laugh anyways.
  • What about the software stack?
    The software could be developed and tested using conventional computers without the expense of building these laptops.
    What I fear is that these laptops will be underpowered for the software stack. Just seems kind of silly to not have a good low resource software stack done before spending the money on the hardware.

    • Just to clarify (I'm a developer working for the OLPC) that we've had developer boards for months-and-months now, using them to test the software on. These particular computers are simply more complete. But yeah, speed has been a major factor all along.
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        I looked at the software available.
        Where are the educational programs?
        I see nothing that teaches reading or basic math skills?
        Squeak/EToys is nice but I saw no traditional educational programs. I have to love the idea of giving kid VIM. That will help kids. They will all want to be farmers after that.
        You could deliver content from the web but who will develop it? Does the Sugar browser support rich Internet sites like Google maps and yahoo maps?

        Honestly I would love to see more educational software for Linu
  • Prototypes are nice... but do they actually work? I'm very skeptical that this thing can be produced at this price. I'll believe it when a factory is cranking out a few thousand a day, AND THEY WORK. Until then, it's nothing but vapor and PR.
  • "Let's hope that these first prototypes do not warrant any design changes and that the testing goes well so that countries that expressed interest (Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Argentina, and Thailand) can start distributing them soon." Translation: Lets hope that these units are flawless(which hardly ever happens) and are swiftly distributed to a reputable re-seller on ebay so I can get my hands on one.
  • Destructive testing? DESTRUCTIVE TESTING? WOOOO!!!

    Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
    Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
  • Every time a OLPC history is published on slashdot we get a a series of "omg! people outside the US or EU live in mud huts and do nothing but starve all day long!!!11" comments.

    I will simply point you to the human development index map: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:HDImap2006.png [wikipedia.org]

    Notice how the only country of the list of buyers (if you can locate them in the map, that is) under YELLOW is Nigeria.
    And how Argentina is actually in GREEN.
    That will be all, thank you.
  • by feranick (858651) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @01:53PM (#16840372)
    Being in several grades school around the country (and not in rich areas), I realized that there are plenty of "third world" type of realities in middle America. Underfunded schools, unmotivated students in depressed areas, many of them with huge literacy problems (reading deficiencies). From experience I can tell that what those kids need is motivation, something that they can get excited. So, why not deploying the OLPC in these communities/schools? It seems that people here are talking of the US as a very homogeneous country. They are not. Very poor areas exist, and kids there are no different (unfortunately) with their pairs in Brazil.
    • by Teancum (67324)
      Considering that Massachusetts Governor Mit Romney has explicitly requested to purchase these computers for use by inner-city youth of Boston as well as for other lower-income families and school districts of Massachusetts, I don't see how anybody else could have much more pull to try and get them sold within America.

      Of your sentiment in general, I think you are completely correct that they ought to be sold within the USA. And there is no logical reason other than an attempt by the parts suppliers of the O
      • by feranick (858651)
        Interesting considerations. However when I mentioned the conditions in some parts of the US, I was not referring to the "homeless". I was talking about thousands of kids which do not have access to an education which is expected in a civilized country. Proper science and language labs, small classes, prepared teachers. I am talking about schools where social science teachers are forced to teach physics for example. I am talking about areas where the primary goal at school is not to get involved with drugs,
  • Okay, setting aside worthiness or difficulties of the OLPC project[1], what other technological device could really help people in such straits then?

    A while ago, I suggested a modular ``Safety core'' which would be a 10 x 10 foot cube which would contain solar cells, a water purifier, a pedal-powered generator, lights, radio, hydroponic garden (to at least provide for vitamin C needs), sleeping facilities a composting toilet and sink and water fountain and a pantry w/ say a 6 week supply of food staples and
    • setting aside worthiness or difficulties of the OLPC project[1], what other technological device could really help people in such straits then?

      Every year, more than two million children die of diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by dirty water and a lack of "access to sanitation." That is the common euphemism for the reality that more than a third of the world's people -- 2.6 billion -- have no decent place to go to the bathroom, while more than a billion get water for drinking, washing and cooking from

  • Lovely hardware, more flexibility with the peripherals and a more recent Geode LX core: Linutop [linutop.com]. Free Software -based, of course. It even uses LinuxBIOS. Me wanna!

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955

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