Amazon to Sell OLPC XO Laptops With the Get One, Give One Arrangement

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 12, 2008

PCWorld reports that the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Group has confirmed that Amazon will have XO laptops for sale on Monday, November 17th. The XO laptops at Amazon are sold in the same manner as they were initially at the OLPC site, with a $400 donation securing a laptop for the customer, and a laptop for a child in a developing country. This donation (or at least the portion used to purchase the laptop for the child) is tax deductible.

OLPC's vice president of software engineering, Jim Gettys, said that the XO laptops sold through Amazon will be Linux based (though some countries are opting for Windows versions), and that there is some talk of selling the XO through Amazon in other countries.

Depending on who is asked (on any given day), the OLPC can be called a great success, or a disappointing failure. Labeling the project either way is oversimplifying the issue. Is the OLPC the dominant machine in the market it targeted? Not exactly, but roughly two years later, it is still here (despite management upheavals). Nor is it an open source versus proprietary issue, at least, not purely. Many complaints that I've heard from those with the XO had less to do with the software and more to do with hardware components that were intermittently uncooperative. And love it or hate it, the OLPC opened the flood gates of low cost, lower (but adequately) powered computers, many of which run Linux as the pre-installed operating system. Is it what the project planned, or what the world expected? Probably not. There were losses, but it is nowhere near all bad.

The OLPC project is working on an updated XO (codenamed the extremely memorable XO-1 Gen 1.5) that could include a faster processor, better wireless hardware, increased storage capacity and rubber bumpers for added screen protection. It is expected to ship in the first quarter of 2009. My hope is that this doesn't cause anyone who might be willing to participate in the "Give One, Get One" program to wait for that release. Even if the release happens as scheduled, there is a need for these machines now, and even with the issues they have, they are still very functional.

The OLPC has also announced it's aiming for a 2010 release of the XO-2 laptop, which will integrate touch screen displays.

The XO's operating system is based on Fedora Core 6, and runs the Sugar Desktop Environment (which can be taken for a test drive on a few live "desktop" distributions.)