Is Open-Source Dogma The Most Important Aspect Of The $100 Laptop?
from the this-machine-runs-solely-on-buzzwords dept
Stories about the $100 laptop for the world’s poor pop up time and time again, and this time, the Wall Street Journal weighs in with an overview that rehashes many of the same points that have been made time and time again: the design and manufacture of the machines still isn’t settled, and the cost — even at $100 — could still be a stumbling block for many nations. The article does have one interesting tidbit, though. Steve Jobs offered the MIT project working on the computers free use of Apple’s OS X, but had his offer rebuffed because the people behind the initiative wanted to use an open-source operating system that they could “tinker with”. As others are pointing out, rejecting Apple’s offer to use its well-designed, well-supported OS for free sounds like putting the extreme application of open-source dogma ahead of practicality. This isn’t to decry the value of Linux and other open-source projects at all, but while a customized OS might do exactly what the project’s backers want, the insistence on having an open-source OS they’ve “tinkered” with to fit their project promises to create a walled garden on these computers that leaves them capable of running only those applications and performing those tasks which the project has approved. Using a popular, widely available OS would give these computers, and the people using them, the flexibility to install all kinds of applications, extending the computers’ utility. What’s the real goal here, to empower poor people by giving them as useful a machine as possible, or to make some sort of “statement” about open-source software? Update: To clarify, the value of open-source software is clear, as is the wide availability of applications for Linux. But the rejection of Steve Jobs’ offer deserves a better explanation than was reported in the original article. There are plenty of good, legitimate reasons to use a customized version of Linux for the project, as noted in the comments.