Wednesday, March 12, 2008

OLPC: Virus Free

I didn't intend for OLPC to become one of my favourite topics, I just happen to notice a lot going on about it in the press, and sadly a lot of it is just plain wrong.

Take, for example, a recent article by Sam Varghese, entitled "OLPC: one virus per child". I won't link to the article, because it is extremely misleading, in my opinion, and doesn't deserve the clicks. In short, the article surmises that because Microsoft is working hard to provide Windows XP for the XO Laptop and Nicholas Negroponte made a comment about reorganizing the One Laptop Per Child organization to be run "more like Microsoft", the XO Laptop is doomed to be a vessel for spreading computer viruses worldwide.

I fail to see how Mr Varghese links Microsoft providing XP for the XO Laptop and Negroponte's quote that the organization needs to be run "more like Microsoft". The one has nothing to do with the other, and he's clearly taken both out of context to support his inane argument.

Nowhere in the BusinessWeek article he uses as reference does Negoponte say the XO Laptop or the goals of providing that laptop need to change to suit Microsoft or any other proprietary operating system. What he does say is that the organization needs to function more like the most successful software company in the world; like it or not, that is Microsoft, and emulating the way they market and operate would be a major benefit to the One Laptop Per Child effort.

Assuming that this statement means OLPC will be changing direction to provide a proprietary OS for every laptop -- essentially abandoning all the work done previously -- is extremely narrow-minded and naive. It also ignores the principles behind the XO Laptop: "We want the child to interact with the laptop on as deep a level as he or she desires. Children program the machine, not the other way around."


WE ARE *NIXED! said...

Agreed. I don't know what Sam has against the OLPC or if he is simply playing devil's advocate (and doing a poor job of it).

Some good has come about due to the OLPC, such as finding ways to lower the cost of hardware. I consider that a must and is very important to me. By the way, thanks for linking to both my blogs. :)

Anonymous said...

And I don't see how you got that Sam is anti OLPC from his article. Anti Windows XP on the OLPC - yes. If the OLPC starts shipping with XP instead of Linux then Sam will be right. One virus per child made possible by XP and a mess network.

So, maybe Sam is jumping to conclusions. But it sounds like you are too!

Lets just wait and see if the OLPC becomes nothing more than a Microsoft ad or not.

Webmaster said...

I will never say blind faith is a good thing; having faith in this project, and getting all the facts before spreading negativity about it, however, is what I'm advocating.

Time will tell if Microsoft hijacks this device. But if politics kill it before the project has a chance to succeed, who will be to blame?

Anonymous said...

If XP start being loaded on the XO, then the OVPC can come true. Its seems that you don't know the Windows world very well. How do you tell a child that they need to patch their system, have an antivirus, a firewall, antispyware, etc etc. That they can't install their neighbor's pirated Office suite? You could tell me that those program will be preloaded before the child begin using the laptop, but who will be paying for antivurs, antispyware licences? How many time kids has to go to an "access point" to update virus definitions and system patches? Until when Microsoft will be supporting XP if it's expected to end support by 2009? Sorry for my bad English, but being this a commercial and political issue, it's a reality too.

Anonymous said...

Negroponte took all of his credibility and the good intentions of this project in relation to learning and flushed them down the viral toilet. Shame on him!
The only redeeming end to this story (if Micro$oft Windoze XP does ship) would be if the kids wiped the viral memory sucker off and installed Linux themselves.

paul said...

The philosophy of the OLPC is great and I am encouraged everytime someone really wealthy steps up and does something that is noble. That being said, what is the track record of Redmond? Can you blame these people for being apprehensive? Objectively speaking, I can't. We've seen the extend, embrace, and erase (my version of the descriptive phrase) used so many times. What about the recent activity with OOXML? The Redmond operation is amoral, at best. I'm with the ones who see the glass as half empty now. What might have been a remarkable tool to lift the emerging economies of the world could simply be a subtle strategy to apply the yoke of ms software rental costs.

Ed Ellingham said...

The sole purpose was that Microsoft will do anything to push Open Source software out of the picture. The sole purpose is that OLPC is for limited resource areas. Geek Squad isn't down the street to over charge for spyware removal on these laptops. Basically the point is these laptops designed to just work are gonna be vulnerable now, and don't forget that they jump off of one another for networking...a virus could tear some shit up. Pay attention to the things around you and you'll understand...I guess that's why you still run Windows in the first place...

zbog said...

Sam Varghese was consitently against OLPC from the begining.
He said the laptops were flimsy and in fact they are very sturdy.
Looking forward to gather more information about this guy.