One Laptop Per Child

Ted Mittelstaedt tedm at
Sun Nov 18 23:05:32 PST 2007

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-freebsd-questions at
> [mailto:owner-freebsd-questions at]On Behalf Of Beech Rintoul
> Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 12:40 AM
> To: freebsd-questions at
> Cc: Olivier Nicole; rmarella at
> Subject: Re: One Laptop Per Child
> On Sunday 11 November 2007, Olivier Nicole said:
> > > I am usually not the one to bring up these things but I feel very
> > > strongly about this. Starting Monday, November 12 this website is
> > > offering a give one get one deal. I believe the money will be
> > > well invested. YMMV
> > >
> > >
> >
> > That is a difficult issue, while this is an opportunity, I doubt
> > this is the most needed thing to provide education. We are talking
> > giving laptop to people who do not even have electricity in some
> > cases...
> >
> > Olivier
> >From what I've been reading they are addressing this issue. One way 
> was providing solar power recharging stations. The other was hooking 
> up carousel type playground equipment to a small generator to 
> recharge the laptops. The third was good old WWII vintage hand crank 
> power. I also read that these laptops are optimized for low power 
> usage. I live in Alaska and they have been using the internet  for 
> education in rural villiages for many years with much success. I 
> personally think this is a great idea. Too bad they won't all be 
> running FreeBSD :-)

Well, I know it's been a week since this came up but I'll toss
in my $0.02 here.  I've been against this project since I heard
about it.  Fortunately, it appears to be failing.

IMHO what these kids need are connections to the Internet and
the knowledge store on the Internet, not a laptop.  Their real
needs would best be served with the equivalent of a winterm
running a web browser, and the associated infrastructure to
connect that to the Internet.  What a laptop that isn't networked
to the Internet is going to do to help them I cannot guess.  I
suspect most that are not connected to an Internet connection
will end up being used for games, that's about all they will
be good for.  The idea that they would be used for word processing
or spreadsheets is rediculous.  You need a printer and paper
and ink for that, ie: a lot of consumables, which these kids
parents cannot afford.

The idea of this project seems to have been to just dump a lot
of laptops into these kids hands and trust that the network
fairies will magically fly out and connect all of them to something 
they can use.

The other problem of course is that laptops are more fragile
than a desktop that is fixed, and very subject to theft, much
more than a desktop.  No thought seems to have gone into funding
the ongoing support structure necessary to keep a deployment of such
magnitude as they want in running order - in all the articles
I've read on these things, no mention of warranty has ever been
made.  I suppose they figure once the kid gets the laptop and
the government program that gives him the laptop ends, that
the kid will be able to come up with the $10-$20 monthly equivalent
to keep the internet connection to the thing going?  Assuming
they even have a phone at all?

It would have been better to try creating a project that would
produce a turnkey Internet network deployment that would be able
to be dropped into any school anywhere, even if such a school 
consisted of a hut in the middle of a desert with a hole out back
as the bathroom, no electricity, no running water, no telephone
lines within 100 miles.  But of course, such a deployment would
require labor and nobody wants to pay salaries of people who
go into these places and try to hook up things, it's too boring.
It's much more interesting and sexy to buy plastic boxes that
work real cool in a 2000's American bedroom and ship them out
to the boondocks in Africa.  Makes people really feel as though
they are helping.


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