XO Camp attendees, and many taking part from afar, were invited to submit questions about OLPC’s future. Nicholas answered a limited number during two sessions; the full list are posted below. Now we have to figure out which wiki FAQ to add them to…
1. Current programs and general questions
* What efforts will OLPC make to support the XO-1?
The XO-1 will be fully supported, including hardware and firmware up-dates, spare parts and ever growing activities. OLPC is in discussion with several of the large deployments to understand how they help beyond their own national boundaries.
* For how long is the XO-1 going to be in production?
The XO-1 and its planned revision, which we fondly call 1.5, will be in production for at least two more years, and is expected to remain available to existing deployments beyond that point for replacements and spares.
* Is the production of XO-1s at risk if the sales stop? Do you have a plan to sustain the demand for XO-1s in this atmosphere of uncertainty?
OLPC itself is independent of sales. At the moment, there is a back order of 500,000 laptops. At the current rate of production, which is 50,000 per month, the world could stop and there is 10 months of life in the supply chain. Yes, there is a global economic slow down, but we do not expect sales to totally stop. Rwanda just ordered 100,000 laptops. Give the focus of OLPC’s mission, many of our sales are to entities where funding is a concern even in the best economic times.
* Will the XO-2 be developed as an important free software project as the XO-1 was?
The XO-2 will continue OLPC’s tradition of open development including Open Firmware and open-source operating system support.
* In what ways are you planning to involve the community in the development of the XO-2?
We may need the community more than ever for XO-2, because we are exploring the degree to which the hardware of XO-2 can be open source (whatever that really means in hardware). OLPC’s strategy for XO-2 support is to build a broader community of interest in the technologies used, to provide greater benefit to participants.
* Whats your timeframe for having the XO-2 in the market?
* Are there any updates on dual-boot deployments of XO-1?
We expect them soon, less than three months, taking advantage of existing XO-1 hardware.
2. No-cost connectivity program
-Great idea, as connectivity is one of the largest challenges for a country or region to implement a one laptop per child program. What technologies are you aiming at?
There will be a family of them, satellite as well as terrestrial. The program will have regulatory and technology components. Every telecommunications system has built-in over-capacity, if only to satisfy peaks. The idea is to use these transparently.
* What will the first deployments be?
Hard to predict, as this is a complex project that will have substantial local requirements and involvement. Initial deployment targets will depend on participation, infrastructure, and regulatory aspects of the project.
* What role will the community have in this project?
Also hard to predict.
3. A million digital books
* How does this integrate into the ongoing OLPC project?
It is an effort to increase content. OLPC’s software development became too idiosyncratic. Doing books will demand a more general platform. Providing access to digital book content is a substantial opportunity that OLPC’s work to date hasn’t capitalized on.
* What places will be given priority for their distribution?
Place should make no difference. Language will and right now the predominance is English. Spanish and Chinese are growing. Arabic needs to expand. An important part of this effort will be support for locally-generated book content in the developer’s preferred language.
* What technologies will be used for their implementation?
Nothing extraordinary; this project will substantially consist of connecting existing technologies to ultimately provide a complete book-to-the-XO-user solution.
* Have you considered having them be sound and music players as well?
Yes, but not currently headed there. Little doubt that the kids will get them there!
* What role will the community have in this?
That depends on the community. Wiki text books has always been a goal, but most people reading this text will say that is another community.
4. Passing on the development of the Sugar Operating System to the community.
* In what way will OLPC support the community in this transition? Will OLPC keep improving and debugging the software of the already delivered XOs?
OLPC will move to a Linux desktop that will run Sugar as an application. Fedora 10, which shipped in November, is a major step in this direction. It’s a standard Fedora distribution that will boot on the XO-1 and includes Sugar as one of the desktop options. OLPC is working with the Fedora Project and Sugar Labs to provide a more tightly-integrated and better-performing version of this solution in the Fedora 11 release.
* What concrete plans do you have to help the deployment countries supported by the OLPC software developers who won’t be there anymore?
Deployment is done in and by the country. OLPC itself does not do deployment but will continue to find ways to leverage and share the collective experience of 600,000+ deployed XOs. OLPC’s existing country technical support function continues to be available as a clearinghouse for all deployment support.
* Will OLPC open other options for software platforms in addition to Sugar?
We announced the dual boot Windows in April; alternative Linux options exist already. Fedora 10 allows other desktop options, and Ubuntu and Debian distributions customized for the XO are already in wide usage.
* What place will the community have inside OLPC?
OLPC has always depended on the community and will continue to do so. In fact, the recent move to push Sugar into the community completely is an example of dramatically expanding the place of the community.
5. The mission
* What would you say is the OLPC’s essential mission? has it changed? What policies is OLPC going to use to acomplish that mission?
OLPC’s mission has never changed. It is to eliminate poverty through education, by providing the means for children to learn learning. The focus on the poorest and most remote children has been since day one. Most recently there has been an emphasis on conflict and post conflict nations.
* Is there any chance that one of the OLPC’s board members could come from the OLPC community?
OLPC’s board is not a management board, so I am not sure this would interest the community. But the idea is not out of the question.
6. OLPC Latin América
* About the spin off of OLPC Latin América, as a mean to give support to the deployments: How this separation is gonna be handled? What does it mean?
We are understanding this in real time. The idea is to create a strong entity that has the freedom to do things that are closer to the business and reliability needs to large deployments. The issue is meeting the requirements of scale.
* Which communication will remain between OLPC and OLPC Latina?
It had better be a strong one. I cannot imagine otherwise.
* What it’s gonna be the structure of the desicion making process in OLPC and OLPC Latina?
The structure of decision making at OLPC Americas will be almost solely up to OLPC Americas. That’s the point.
* What will be the OLPC’s business model there?
A non-profit organization. Whether it gets income from the sales of laptops is to be seen.
* Will Latinoamerica have a “Give Many” program?
It is addressing “buy many” at the moment. It is possible that the funding for these comes, in part, from a public giving program. No formal “give many” program is currently planned.