One Laptop Per Child project moves closer to fruition

I wouldn't normally talk about laptops on this blog but the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) initiative, launched by MIT's guru, Nicolas Negroponte, is something that little bit different.

The $100 (£60) OLPC laptop has at its heart a Linux Operating system and will probably include other open source software. Many have criticised the viability of this project and, only a few days ago, Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel, the world's largest chipmaker, blasted the OLPC project as nothing more than a gadget.

I can guess what they thinking, though, when they learnt that, Quanta, the world's largest ODM/OEM laptop manufacturer, was awarded the contract for designing and possibly building up to 15 million OLPC laptops with production starting at the end of next year.

The laptops will not be sold to end users but rather to governments, institutions and possibly NGOs. This is not your usual fanciful computer for everyone project that we had in the past. With the backing of Advanced Micro Devices, Brightstar, Google, News Corp., Nortel and Red Hat, the OLPC project is serious stuff.

And open source will play a huge role in this project. If a commercial version of the laptop is sold and if what I think will happen really happens, then we will have £99 PDA-killer sub laptop running on open source applications for next Christmas.

Microsoft et al won't probably be happy if in 2007, 20 million people start learning Linux and Open office.