May 24, 2006 12:25 PM PDT

$100 laptop gets working prototype

The One Laptop Per Child crusade for low-cost PCs for developing nations is another step closer to the assembly line.

The nonprofit organization this week is showing off an initial working prototype of its so-called $100 PC. This marks the first time the project has combined its candy-colored designs with computing hardware.

Laptop in orange

"Both the (industrial design) and the hardware had been shown separately in the past," Walter Bender, OLPC's president for software and content, said in an e-mail to CNET News.com. The working laptop, he wrote, is "completely self-contained, a real milestone for us."

One of the machines on exhibit this week features a new, vividly orange exterior that complements other prototypes done up in shades of green, blue and yellow. But it's not a final design just yet: The system carries an 800-by-480-pixel display, while the eventual production version is expected to have a 1,200-by-900 display.

The OLPC group was meeting at its Cambridge, Mass., office this week with task forces from the countries in which it plans to launch the $100 computer in early 2007. The Linux-based computers will not be for individual sale, but rather will be made available through large-scale government initiatives.

The goal of the project, unveiled in 2005 by MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, is to get the PCs into the hands of millions children in countries including India, China, Brazil and Nigeria, as an educational tool. It's not alone in its low-cost ambitions: Chipmakers Intel and Advanced Micro Devices and software giant Microsoft have similar systems in the works.

Other details about progress on the systems appeared on the OLPC site over the weekend. For instance, a team from Linux vendor Red Hat has trimmed the software distribution from 400MB to about 250MB, uncompressed. "There is still low-hanging fruit left to pull out of the image, including bitmap fonts we don't use (7MB), the X font server (1MB) and Perl (30MB)," the site says.

Negroponte had complained last month that "Linux has gotten fat," hampering efforts to produce "small, fast, thin systems."

The machine on display this week is running Fedora Core 5.0, Bender said.

The first 15 A-Test boards have been successfully assembled and tested, according to the OLPC site, and wide-scale distribution of developer boards is expected by mid-June. Taiwanese contract manufacturer Quanta has been selected to manufacture the systems.

The PCs, which will not have a hard drive, are meant to work wirelessly with other systems in their area.

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16 comments

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Smaller Linux
The article comments that they have Linux down to 250MB.
This sounds strange, as there are a number of really small and fast Linux distributions that are much smaller.

Is there a specific reason that they are using Fedora Core rather than a smaller distribution?
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe
Maybe you can in future get support from RedHat, other small distros are without support.
---
Pixel image editor - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.kanzelsberger.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.kanzelsberger.com</a>
Posted by firstlast (35 comments )
Link Flag
Smaller Linux
The article comments that they have Linux down to 250MB.
This sounds strange, as there are a number of really small and fast Linux distributions that are much smaller.

Is there a specific reason that they are using Fedora Core rather than a smaller distribution?
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe
Maybe you can in future get support from RedHat, other small distros are without support.
---
Pixel image editor - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.kanzelsberger.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.kanzelsberger.com</a>
Posted by firstlast (35 comments )
Link Flag
So far, so good
It sure looks like the project is going to meet its goal of creating a
low-cost, mesh networkable computer.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So far, so good
It sure looks like the project is going to meet its goal of creating a
low-cost, mesh networkable computer.
Posted by J.G. (837 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I will buy on if sell to the world
I think is better than PDA, just like a book easy to read :)
Posted by Ryan Qian (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not unless you have a lot of money
They will be offered in mass quantities, not individual sales.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Link Flag
I will buy on if sell to the world
I think is better than PDA, just like a book easy to read :)
Posted by Ryan Qian (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not unless you have a lot of money
They will be offered in mass quantities, not individual sales.
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Link Flag
It's a scam.
People are going to make money from governments to give this useless laptop to people who can't even be helped by it. Poor people in poor countries need clean water, adequate housing, healthcare, employment, the rule of law, a proper court system, and a government that doesn't stifle economic freedom for the benefit of a few. That $100 laptop isn't going to do anything for the poor children in Mexico. That's why millions of Mexicans are coming here instead.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's a scam.
People are going to make money from governments to give this useless laptop to people who can't even be helped by it. Poor people in poor countries need clean water, adequate housing, healthcare, employment, the rule of law, a proper court system, and a government that doesn't stifle economic freedom for the benefit of a few. That $100 laptop isn't going to do anything for the poor children in Mexico. That's why millions of Mexicans are coming here instead.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hank you for participating
Thank you for participating in CNET News.com's TalkBack. The posting of advertisements, profanity or personal attacks is prohibited. Offending messages will be removed. Click here to review our Terms of use.
Posted by vnenet (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hank you for participating
Thank you for participating in CNET News.com's TalkBack. The posting of advertisements, profanity or personal attacks is prohibited. Offending messages will be removed. Click here to review our Terms of use.
Posted by vnenet (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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