Missing the hook

It is surprising to me that the editors of the HuffPo could so glaringly miss the point of Bill Gates’ unsurprising slam of the MIT $100 laptop initiative. It’s irresponsible to just run a brief blurb from the Yahoo News article without any sort of “We are thinking critically here, and this is what we think might be behind Gates’ dismissal:”

The thing doesn’t run Windows. It runs Open Source software. To whit:

We are committed to the principle of Open Source for this project. Please refer to our manifesto: OLPC on open source software.

Which says:

To achieve these and other practical goals and to live up to the principles upon which we believe the success of our platform will be built, we insist that the software platform for the One Laptop Per Child project:
• Must include source code and allow modification so that our developers, the
governments that are our customers and the children who use the laptop can
look under the hood change the software to fit an inconceivable and
inconceivably diverse set of needs. Our software must also provide a
self-hosting development platform.
• Must allow distribution of modified copies of software under the same
license so that the freedoms that our developers depend upon for success
remain available to the users and developers who define the next generation
of the software. Our users and customers must be able to localize
software into their language, fix the software to remove bugs, and
repurpose the software to fit their needs.
• Must allow redistribution without permission — either alone or as part of
an aggregate distribution — because we can not know and should not control
how the tools we create will be re-purposed in the future. Our children
outgrow our platform, our software should be able to grow with them.
• Must not require royalty payments or any other fee for redistribution or
modification for obvious reasons of economy and pragmatism in the context
of our project.

It goes on from there.

This little “toy” is going to blanket Africa in free software. No wonder the richest man in the world hates it. He’s, by the way, got an $800 alternative….

Before his critique, Gates showed off a new “ultra-mobile computer” which runs Microsoft Windows on a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) touch screen.

Those machines are expected to sell for between $599 and $999, Microsoft said at the product launch last week.

Of course, if you’re poor and/or living in a developing nation, you can suck it, as far as Bill Gates is concerned.


  1. I’m no fan of Microsft, but Bill Gates has put up $24 billion to philanthropic causes, most of them related to providing vaccinations and health services to developing countries.

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