Should One Laptop Per Child System Run Linux Or Windows? - InformationWeek

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Government // Enterprise Architecture
Commentary
12/10/2007
01:52 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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Should One Laptop Per Child System Run Linux Or Windows?

Microsoft stirred up controversy last week when it suggested a Linux-based laptop for children in developing nations be redesigned to accommodate Windows. Would that be a good move?

Microsoft stirred up controversy last week when it suggested a Linux-based laptop for children in developing nations be redesigned to accommodate Windows. Would that be a good move?One Laptop Per Child's XO system currently runs on a Red Hat Linux OS. The thinking is that open source software allows OLPC to offer a system for the lowest cost possible. It also prevents 'lock in' to any one commercial vendor's technology.

But Microsoft general manager James Utzschneider argues that making the XO laptop compatible with Windows XP would give students in poor countries access to "tens of thousands of existing educational applications written for Windows."

That sounds like a reasonable point -- after all, there's not many Linux apps out there aimed at the K-12 market, in any language.

Utzschneider says a shrunken version of Windows XP could potentially run on 2 Gbytes of flash memory. The XO, however, can only hold 1 Gbyte. As a result, Microsoft wants the XO's designers to add a slot through which more memory can be added via a Secure Digital (SD) card.

So, what do you think? Would kids in the developing world be better off with a Linux-based system that goes for under $200?

Or, is it better to equip them with technology from a major vendor that's supported by an ecosystem of thousands of application developers -- even if that means the system might cost a bit more?

You can weigh in below with your thoughts.

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