1 in 20 Latin American children use an OLPC laptop

There are roughly 58 million primary school students in Latin America, according to UNESCO’s latest data from their Education For All initiative.   5% of children in that age range are not in school.  And 5% of them use XOs: 1.5 million children have their own, and Peru’s urban initiative is giving another 1.5 million students in urban schools access to XOs through a program where groups of 3-5 students share a laptop.

 

Today 4/5 of these students are in Uruguay, Peru, Argentina, and Mexico.   But new programs are growing rapidly, in NicaraguaCosta RicaColombia, and elsewhere.

That’s a lot of budding Pythonistas, Scratcheros, and Linux users!
Now if only my own home country would start providing computers and connectivity to its students as a matter of course…

OLPC in Mexico: proudly running Linux

Last week we shared excellent news from OLPC México: Sonora’s plans to distribute XO laptops to 350,000 children across their state over the next three years. A few days later the head of Microsoft in Mexico commented in a Sonoran newspaper that ‘while giving computers to students is a good thing, the Sonora project will fail because XO laptops use Linux instead of Windows.

In the same article the Microsoft spokesperson claimed the OLPC project in Uruguay had been a failure due to “Internet security and privacy issues” and that it changed to Wintel machines. Miguel Brechner, head of Plan Ceibal in Uruguay, corrected those misimpressions. There are 570,000 XO laptops in Uruguay schools, all running Sugar for elementary school students and Linux for middle school students, with no security or privacy problems. While dual-booting Windows was available for years as an option for OLPC deployments, almost none chose that option. (Uruguay tested it out, but opted for Gnome-on-Fedora instead.)

This misinformation from Microsoft is a pity; they seem to have no internal incentives to make accurate statements or to advance education. We applaud the work of the Sonora and Uruguay communities to their students, and look forward to their continued success!

The XO-3 tablet is on display at CES

As foreshadowed 18 months ago, an XO-3 prototype is debuting at CES this weekend, and will be shown off next week at the Marvell booth. Here is a sneak peek at what it looks like:

If you are heading to CES, you can stop by and see it yourself! Ping Giulia to set up an appointment, or drop by the Marvell booth. Charbax of olpc.tv will be on site as always, recording some video and interviews.

The XO-3 will sport a 1024×768 Pixel Qi screen, half-gig of RAM, and a Marvell Armada PXA618 chip. Some of the soft cover designs proposed so far include a built-in solar panel. More updates coming over the next week; for now, here is our CES press release.

The XO-3 is still planned to enter production at the end of this year.

0% of XOs run Windows

A stray comment today about Windows not working on ARM machines, by someone who thought all OLPC laptops had moved away from Linux, reminded me to reaffirm something:

Every XO we have ever made shipped from the factory with Linux. The 2M+ XOs running Linux is one of the largest deployments of Linux in the classroom anywhere in the world, and the largest in primary schools.

A few thousand dual-booted into Windows [XP] as well, either at the time they shipped or after being reflashed – after a Microsoft team modded a version of XP for the XO, and our firmware made dual-booting possible. That was an impressive bit of coding and optimization, and Uruguay in particular was interested in dual-boot machines, testing them in classrooms on XO-1′s, but decided not to continue those tests. The only other machines that ever made use of the dual build were part of programs sponsored by Microsoft. In all, under 7,000 XOs have ever run Windows natively, 5,000 in Uruguay.   That is less than 0.3% of all laptops we have ever produced. (In contrast, running software under emulation through wine or SugaredWine is popular in Latin America.)

I have heard of a few teachers that had those machines in at least one class, in Uruguay or Peru, but have never seen first-hand reports from anyone using them. If you visit or know of a school that tried this please share your stories; I would be interested to hear about the experience.

0.3% of XOs run Windows

A stray comment today about Windows not working on ARM machines, by someone who thought all OLPC laptops had moved away from Linux, reminded me to reaffirm something:

Every one of the 2M+ XOs we’ve ever made shipped from the factory with Linux. As far as I know, under 7,000 XOs have ever run Windows natively* – some 0.3% of all laptops we have ever produced. Most of those dual-booted into both Sugar and Windows XP, as part of programs sponsored independently by Microsoft. I know of a few teachers that had those machines in at least one class, but have never seen reports from a class using them — if you know of one of these schools, I would be most interested to hear about the experience — particularly from schools that used both OSes.

The XO community around the world includes one of the largest deployments of Linux to primary students anywhere in the world. This is something we can all be proud of.


* To be fair: running Windows in emulation through wine or SugaredWine is quite popular for certain activities.  Three cheers for the wine team’s excellent work!

Open Education at LinuxCon

Sebastial Dziallas organized a day-long session on Open Education at LinuxCon last week. They spent half the day discussing the needs of teachers and Sugar development. Caroline Meeks, Karlie Robinson, Colin Zweibel and others presented.

Mairin Duffy wrote up the event well, and the OpenSource Education channel offers lovely newsmag-style overviews as well.