I love Linux. It’s not as if I use it much but I love the idea of it. Open source. Free collaboration. All that.
I am less enamoured of the techy-boys-toys attitudes that seem to infect a lot of Linux-users, or the unlimited contempt that they can show to anyone who knows ever so slightly less than them about operating systems.
The recent developments in the one-laptop-per-child project which will now see it offering Windows, as well as Linux, seem to be causing a lot of dissent. This was described on the BBC as the OLPC project “getting in bed with… the Great Satan”
According to the BBC report, the purists in the OLPC movement see Linux as at the heart of the project. Well fine, but is this project supposed to be about spreading access to technology and internet communication or is it about creating a world full of Linux nerds? Because, to most people, even to most techies as Ivan Krstic pointed out, computers are not ends in themselves. They are just tools.
Some of us like messing about with tech (to a degree..) Most people don’t. A television that you couldn’t operate without degree-level knowledge of electronics engineering would be pretty unpopular. Why assume that every third world kid will suddenly become someone who is happy to mess about with a kernel for weeks?
Most people in the world use Microsoft products. Nearly everyone of us has to use Microsoft in work. Surely that makes a Microsoft operating system a reasonable component to put in a product that aims to cover the world.
Or are the kids who get these laptops only to be allowed to use predefined worthy educational products on them, while their first world equivalents are playing games?
I’m not exactly the world’s biggest fan of the OLPC project anyway, but I don’t think it stands or fails on the nature of the operating system.
IMHO the OLPC has always been liable to turn out to be another top-down western attempt to solve the problems of the poor countries – our solutions to which usually turn out to benefit the rich countries.