The $100 Laptop

Team 5 | BUS 552E | References
introduction | device | sponsors | applications & users | history
display | linux on laptop | mesh networking | tablet pc
implications
conclusions
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The $100 Laptop

small logo

Linux on Laptop

The Linux operating system (OS) was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds as he attended school at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Rather than keeping the Linux OS’s source code closed, Linus made the source code freely available to everyone. Linus also decided to give the GNU General Public License the responsibility for the development and release of licenses of the Linux OS. The Linux OS is free, reliable, secure, and open for modification.

Since its creation, there have been hundreds of organizations and individuals that have built upon the Linux OS to develop custom applications for their use and redistribution. “Linux’s functionality, adaptability, and robustness, has made it the main alternative for proprietary Unix and Microsoft operating systems.” It has been widely embraced as a reliable server platform but its adoption in the desktop market has been very slow. According to a recent online study conducted by Quocirca the top five barriers to migrating to Linux in the desktop environment are as follows:

1. Software availability and compatibility issues
2. Usability, end user acceptance and resistance to change
3. The costs and challenge of end user training and support
4. The cost and challenge of porting Windows applications
5. A frequently encountered dependency on Microsoft Active Directory

As Linux becomes more user friendly and its applications more compatible with the existing infrastructure in the Microsoft Windows corporate environment, it is highly likely that this free, customizable software will be widely embraced for desktop use.
The Linux OS’s contribution to the $100 laptop project is clear. Microsoft Windows, the dominant desktop OS, costs several hundred dollars whereas the Linux OS is free. Users of the $100 laptops will not have access to Microsoft versions of spreadsheets, word processors, organizers, browsers, presentation applications; but good, free, open source applications of all those types of software are widely available and the project won’t have to pay the high prices. Furthermore, because both the OS and most of the applications are open source, programmers can modify the object code so that it is tuned to the needs of the project and the capabilities of the device, rather than requiring a fast processor and hundreds of megabytes of hard disk space to be able to type a letter.

Tux, logo and official mascot of Linux

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Five©2005 WEMBA 2006 Group 5 Fall 2005