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1st OLPCs in Uruguay
December 8, 2007 7:57 AM   Subscribe

First OLPC deployment, in Uruguay.
posted by signal (44 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Peru's next, apparently.
posted by signal at 8:01 AM on December 8, 2007


Wow.

Another interesting day in the history of mankind.
posted by tkolar at 8:13 AM on December 8, 2007


OLPC is a good idea, as long as it's implemented with some idea of a curriculum. I'm curious to see how this all shakes out in the coming months and years.

More importantly though: access to resources and information has never hurt anyone.
posted by exlotuseater at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2007


I was pleased to hear about Peru's order. It's a shame they're not buying all 260,000 at once, though; that's the sort of scale this project needs to bring costs down.

Folks who placed "Give 1 Get 1" orders early received an email letting them know that they'll be getting their laptops no earlier than December 14th.

Oh, and the "Give 1 Get 1" program has been extended to the end of the year. So it's not too late to buy one of these puppies.
posted by sdodd at 8:35 AM on December 8, 2007


I was a bit annoyed with the Give One Get One thing. I "gave" one and am pretty sure that when I did the site said "you'll get yours in time for the holidays". However, they've apparently now said that Americans are getting theirs first and Canadians will get theirs some time after. Frankly, that's pretty lame. They should send them out in the order they were purchased. Either that or they should have specified they were sending out the different country's shipments at different times prior to taking the donations.

I'm sure that many people expected the laptop to be given to a youngster as a Xmas gift and now that seems like it's not gonna happen.

That said, I'm happy the real world deployment has taken place. Very neat.
posted by dobbs at 8:40 AM on December 8, 2007


Keep in mind the spirit behind the G1G1 program. It's not about the giver getting what he/she wants out of it. It's about a charitable donation to a non-profit organization to help a child out there better their education. I too will have to wait, but its understandable as the OLPC team is still in an unpredictable state of development. I feel that once they get a few million units produced, and a stonger financial position they'll have a better feel for manufacture lead times and deployment strategies.

I've been following this project for awhile now, mostly from reading OLPCnews. The design considerations of this laptop are fascinating, considering they had the freedom to design a PC that didn't have to worry about backwards compatibility. It's kind of a shame Microsoft and Intel have been aggressively marketing the classmate PC in the same areas the OLPC had targeted. For some of those areas the OLPC would be better suited, yet unfortunately it's been up to the governments to decide.

I hope this deployment is a huge success.
posted by samsara at 8:55 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I had some extra scratch, I'd do the "Give 1 Get 1" deal and then just send the other laptop back. Ya' know, cuz it's for the kids and shit.
posted by cazoo at 9:25 AM on December 8, 2007


Nit: Could nobody have thought that maybe randomizing 10 colors would help them tell 40 identical laptops apart in a classroom? That stuck-on different colored X on the lid looks like a hack that could have been avoided by just making them look more assorted to begin with.
posted by rokusan at 9:59 AM on December 8, 2007


Hey rokusan, check out these screenshots of the laptop's UI:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Image:Neighborhood.jpg

The color of the XO sticker on the laptop's lid is reflected on the XO icon used to represent that laptop on the mesh networking screen. This color coding helps young kids identify each other while they're still learning to read.
posted by sdodd at 10:25 AM on December 8, 2007


Ok, I'm guessing that OLPC is some kind of charity laptop for poor children? Can someone please provide the background that the original poster inexplicably chose not to?
posted by deadmessenger at 10:39 AM on December 8, 2007


I must just be a big sap, but the pics of those little kids with their new computers choked me up a little bit. Go for, it, you little bastards, compute! You are the new people!
posted by Meatbomb at 10:44 AM on December 8, 2007


"... Can someone please provide the background that the original poster inexplicably chose not to?"
posted by deadmessenger at 1:39 PM on December 8

Sure.
posted by paulsc at 10:51 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


samsara and cazoo, the purpose of the G1G1 program is to get an XO for yourself. If you want to just donate an XO or two and not get one in return then you can do that as well by going right here.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:52 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I should be getting an OLPC through the Give One Get One program though I'm pretty sure it won't be until January at the earliest.

Deadmessenger: you can read about the program here.

Rokusan: More laptop colors = more cost and they were trying to make these as cheaply as possible. I don't think the OX symbols are "stuck on" but painted on judging from flickr set pictures I've seen but I could be wrong.
posted by Fricka at 10:56 AM on December 8, 2007


Any plans to give them free MetaFilter accounts? That would make things interesting around here.
posted by pracowity at 11:02 AM on December 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


I thought the really interesting bit from signal's post, was
"...The second batch was handed out in Escuela No. 24 in Villa Cardal, which has been a pilot site since May of this year; here we were giving kids mass-produced XOs and collecting their old β2 units. I wrote a bit of software to collect usage statistics on the β2 machines but haven’t yet had a chance to play with it; a quick look at the data seems to indicate that in 6 months, kids created on average 1200 files or about 30-50MB on each machine, much of it writing and photographs from the built-in camera. ..."
That would indicate kids in the study group are creating an average of 6+ files a day, which is indicative of real use, without much instruction or support overhead. I would imagine that can only go up, as curriculum is developed, collaborative learning develops, and the deployment program expands.
posted by paulsc at 11:13 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


In places where the price of an XO is several times larger than the annual per capita income, the laptop is an obvious target ...... the key protection feature deters XO theft in the delivery chain by deactivating the laptops ..... until they’re activated at the target school

What about theft outside the school? Is it safe to say that thousands of these laptops will get stolen from the kids out on the street by neighborhood punks and resold on the black market?
posted by chips ahoy at 11:15 AM on December 8, 2007


> What about theft outside the school?

As I understand it, the Bitfrost security mechanism would ensure that the thief could only use the laptop as an educational tool unless the child had already requested a developer key. The developer key permits anyone to replace the operating system and applications. Developer keys won't be distributed to thieves.

Negroponte admits that the black market is something they're worried about. It's a social problem, and they'll need to look to social solutions. There really isn't a technical solution to the problem of theft.
posted by sdodd at 11:57 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


deadmessenger: "Ok, I'm guessing that OLPC is some kind of charity laptop for poor children? Can someone please provide the background that the original poster inexplicably chose not to?"

Here's your background. You might want to bookmark that 'google' site. It might come in handy in other inexplicable situations.
posted by signal at 12:08 PM on December 8, 2007 [8 favorites]


Developer keys won't be distributed to thieves.

That policy has worked out well for insert vendor here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:35 PM on December 8, 2007


samsara and cazoo, the purpose of the G1G1 program is to get an XO for yourself.

Kinda. The purpose is to put more laptops into production to help cut the costs to the recipient government. It helps cut the cost down from the current ~$180/p laptop cost. Getting a laptop in return however is a nice incentive :)
posted by samsara at 1:23 PM on December 8, 2007


We provide such a service for interested countries to enable on the laptops. It works by running, as a privileged process that cannot be disabled or terminated even by the root user, an anti-theft daemon which detects Internet access, and performs a call-home request -- no more than once a day -- to the country's anti-theft servers. In so doing, it is able to securely use NTP to set the machine RTC to the current time, and then obtain a cryptographic lease to keep running for some amount of time, e.g. 21 days. The lease duration is controlled by each country.

I wonder what would stop the average authoritarian government or military dictatorship, running its own activation server, from marking laptops as stolen, which are used for downloading or distributing "salacious" material, thus disrupting its users from accessing said information. Or if someone wanted to corrupt an activation server with bad activation data.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on December 8, 2007


I wonder how long it will take for this program to create hackers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:06 PM on December 8, 2007


Is it safe to say that thousands of these laptops will get stolen from the kids out on the street by neighborhood punks and resold on the black market?

The idea being that this is like stealing street signs or fire hydrants. If the authorities see you with one (and youre not a school kid) its pretty obvious its stolen. This kinda hurts the black market demand for these things.

That said, its interesting to read about this security model. Its also hilarious to hear the bifrost uses signed binaries (especially for the firmware), which the gpl types called tivozation, which is now prohibited in gplv4. Its interesting to see that all the unsigned code has strict limitations. This thing makes windows Vista look like Richard Stallman.

Interesting that kids have to apply for development licenses! "Hello my name is Juan and I am 7 and I want to write a game. Please say yes."
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:49 PM on December 8, 2007


I wonder how long it will take for this program to create hackers.

Well, a hacker is just a progammer who has gone bad. The real question is how many programmers will this program create and what percentage of people go bad.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:50 PM on December 8, 2007


I wonder how long it will take for this program to create hackers.
I figure half the point of the program is to create hackers. You have to get them started young, you know. Making sure they're not malicious hackers is a societal problem, like teaching kids not to steal, and so on.
posted by hattifattener at 3:15 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey damn dirty ape, there's an important fundamental difference between this case and Tivoization. The developer key allows the child to disable Bitfrost entirely. That's an acknowledgment that the child/owner is entitled to do whatever they want to with their computer. Tivo provides no such mechanism. The strict limitations you refer to are really there to keep the kid safe while she's learning. I interpret this as being in line with the GPL.

Oh, and the name "developer key" is a bit confusing. Kids can write software to their hearts' content without applying for a key. (There's a "View Source" button right on the keyboard!) They only need the key if they want to re-flash the BIOS and replace the OS.

Blazecock, the scenario you mentioned was brought up during Bitfrost development. The developer key permits the child to disable activation checks.
posted by sdodd at 3:38 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Signal, for that link. I'm well aware of the Google, thanks, but I'm very glad you've discovered it. It sure is a shame that you didn't hear about it earlier, though, because if you had, this could have been so much more than a single-link newsfilter post.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:48 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. It's like when Hackworth and Judge Fang gave all those copies of A Young Ladies Illustrated Primer to all those Chinese orphan girls in The Diamond Age.
posted by sourwookie at 4:14 PM on December 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


An etiquette question. How best to share my joy with you all when my OLPC arrives?
posted by sdodd at 4:16 PM on December 8, 2007


Thanks, Signal, for that link. I'm well aware of the Google, thanks, but I'm very glad you've discovered it. It sure is a shame that you didn't hear about it earlier, though, because if you had, this could have been so much more than a single-link newsfilter post.


Yes, this could have been a post without any whining from people who couldn't click on the very first tag.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:22 PM on December 8, 2007


deadmessenger: "this could have been so much more than a single-link newsfilter post."

You know, dm honey, when you've actually posted something to MeFi and understand how things work around here maybe you can start schooling others? Until then, please just enjoy the posts, and try to keep it down, the adults are talking.
[/self-derail]

Meatbomb: "I must just be a big sap, but the pics of those little kids with their new computers choked me up a little bit. "

Yeah, me too, which is what motivated this post, I guess, plus the first hand account of what it's like to be the one doing the handing out of said computers.
Regardless of whether or not OLPC is a 'success', the images will stay with me. To bad Chile isn't on board.
posted by signal at 5:29 PM on December 8, 2007


That said, its interesting to read about this security model. Its also hilarious to hear the bifrost uses signed binaries (especially for the firmware), which the gpl types called tivozation, which is now prohibited in gplv4. Its interesting to see that all the unsigned code has strict limitations. This thing makes windows Vista look like Richard Stallman.

I don't think you actually understand their security model. The cornerstone of most security models in use today is allowing an administrator to specify a policy that defines what operations a program can perform and which objects it can perform them on. Implementations usually include tools that the administrator can use to passively discover what access is needed for the program to execute in the expected way.

Unlike most models, the OLPC model allows the program to request the policy definition that it will need over the lifetime of the software at install time, with limits in place to keep malicious software from requesting dangerous combinations of permissions. Code that has been signed by trusted authors is simply allowed to request a broader set of permissions when it defines the policy. Unsigned, untrusted code is still allowed to run, regardless of whether the author is a 7 year old kid (who does not, in fact, need to ask for a "developer license" if he wants to write GORILLA.PY) or not.

It's certainly interesting, but it's not due to whatever you're imagining.

PS - There is no such thing as the GPLv4.
posted by cmonkey at 12:13 AM on December 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


The developer key permits the child to disable activation checks.

What is the mechanism for distributing developer keys to said child during questionable social/political/etc. circumstances?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 AM on December 9, 2007


"... What is the mechanism for distributing developer keys to said child during questionable social/political/etc. circumstances?"
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:58 AM on December 9

That depends on whether or not the child in question is in a position to influence control of massive petroleum reserves.
posted by paulsc at 1:03 AM on December 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Blazecock, there's an app built in to the laptop for applying for, receiving, and using a developer key directly from the OLPC guys. I think the most straightforward answer to your question is: "The Web."

It's documented here:

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Activation_and_Developer_Keys

Note that there are alternatives for using a USB key instead of the Web. And there's a mechanism for OLPC admins to generate a bunch of developer keys at once.

(Oh, and to anybody worried that any of this violates the GPL, Bitfrost's designer has been working with the FSF to ensure compatibility. Bitfrost's designer is the guy whose blog post is featured in this thread's FPP.)
posted by sdodd at 3:18 AM on December 9, 2007


As I just said on MeTa, I've already spent some time playing with one. They're nice machines.
posted by WPW at 7:43 AM on December 9, 2007


cmonkey writes "PS - There is no such thing as the GPLv4."

Not yet.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:22 AM on December 9, 2007


Here's a BBC report on the deployment of 300 OLPCs in pilot program in Nigeria. The students and teachers seem to have a very positive view of the laptop, but the article also points to some serious infrastructure problems. Among them, the satellite internet hookup costs $350 / month and has been cut off.
During the trial, Accelon provided the connection for free but now the school is on its own and as a result, the link has been cut - although OLPC Nigeria had asked for the internet to be restored during our visit.
posted by whir at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2007


Blazecock, there's an app built in to the laptop for applying for, receiving, and using a developer key directly from the OLPC guys. I think the most straightforward answer to your question is: "The Web."

But if the government filters the child's Web Access, s/he still has the same Problem.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:10 PM on December 9, 2007


> But if the government filters the child's Web Access, s/he still has the same Problem.

Absolutely. No doubt about that.

In fact, walling off the Internet altogether is probably the more likely threat. There's a lot of good software and services out there for getting around government filters (China comes to mind). (The OLPC is a Linux box, and YUM is installed, so it'll be difficult to stop these kids from availing themselves of anti-censorship tools.)
posted by sdodd at 6:51 PM on December 9, 2007


I don't think you actually understand their security model.

Err maybe but Im seeing singed binaries needed to edit the firmware which looks like a big violation of gplv3. Either the new gpl is wrong or this is. I'm curious as to where the open source nerds think the fault lies. Tomorrow tivo could sell an appliance that requires the same deal, but if they did there would be outrage. Tivo could say "well, if you do x, y, and z we'll send you the unlock key." So an authority is dictating arbitrary terms to run code on a bought device. Thats good when MIT in involved but when private enterprise does it then someone needs to wake Richard Stallman up from his afternoon nap to rewrite the gpl?!


PS - There is no such thing as the GPLv4.

PS and yes I typed 4 instead of 3. Is pointing out typos how you "debate" and answer people on the web? Is this how defenders on the olpc go aroound? HEY TYPO YOURE NOT PERFECT LIKE ME! Real mature dude.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:25 PM on December 9, 2007


Hey damn dirty ape, the terms under which the developer key is distributed are the same as the terms under which the GPL requires source code to be distributed. That's why Bitfrost does not violate GPLv3 or v2. If Tivo were to begin using Bitfrost tomorrow, they would automatically comply with GPLv3. But they don't, so they're not -- that's the difference.

The reason I can be so confident that Bitfrost complies with GPLv3 is because the designer worked directly with the FSF to make sure it did.

(For those interested, here's how to think about GPL compliance in this case. The GPL requires that the complete source code be made available. And it's perfectly okay to make the source available only upon request, so long as the delay in responding to requests is not too long. Every bit of GPL'd source in the OLPC in freely downloadable online except the developer key. Think of it as the final bit to make the source "complete." So OLPC makes the developer key available upon request, and thus the terms of the GPL are satisfied.)
posted by sdodd at 8:20 PM on December 9, 2007


It may be worth pointing out that there is no GPLv3 licensed code in the OLPC project. So the question is academic at this stage. Also, as much as Tivo is criticized (and I personally believe rightfully so), today they do actually abide by the terms of the license under which they redistribute code -- the GPLv2.

As an aside, the open source aspect of this project is perhaps what makes it the most exciting to me. Your average Westerner using Firefox or GAIM on their Windows laptop is never going to touch the source and so only indirectly benefits from free software. But there's a decent chance these kids will hack on this software. For them there are tangible, direct benefits to Free Software.

posted by sdodd at 8:35 PM on December 9, 2007


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