One laptop per child

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OLPC Project-XO laptop

This coming Christmas, customers in US and Canada will be able to purchase two laptops, one for their own, and one for a child in a poor country. As part of the project to bring $100 computers to the developing world, OLPC is targeting Western customers to donate laptops as Christmas gift.

Bombarded with early disappointing sales, OLPC is looking for new ways to reduce the cost and getting more sponsors for the benefit of children living in poor countries. As such, the low cost XO laptop, will going to run on Linux OS and AMD processor. XO comes with built in wireless router, which enables it to connect to other XOs, forming a mesh network. If some of the XO happens to connect to the internet, then the rest of the XOs will be able to share the internet connection as well. This is quite a good idea, except that the range for WiFi is short, making it difficult to form this kind of network…unless the whole market is flooded with XO laptop. Other possibilities involve new WiMAX technology but it is still very expensive to implement the infrastructure.

Hardware wise, XO is a very basic lappie, only capable of running Linux OS and some open source applications. The processor is AMD Geode LX-700@0.8W, running at 433Mhz, RAM 256MB DDR333, mass storage 1024 MiB SLC NAND flash, 7.5″ 1200×900 LCD display.

Software applications will include a web browser built on Xulrunner, the run-time environment used by the Firefox browser; a simple document viewer based upon Evince; the AbiWord wordprocessor, an RSS reader, an email client, chat client, VOIP client; a journal a wiki with WYSIWYG editing; a multimedia authoring and playback environment; a music composition toolkit, graphics toolkits, games, a shell, and a debugger.

Looking at these specs, I think it is only suitable for primary school children. But nevertheless, it is an innovative product worth looking into. The question is, when will it be available in Malaysia?

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