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Steve Jobs Offers OS X Free of Charge to the $100 Laptop Effort

$100 Laptop Prototype

According the the Wall Street Journal Online Steve Jobs offered to supply free copies of Apple’s OS X to the $100 Laptop education intiative – and was denied.

“We declined because it’s not open source,” says Dr. Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative’s founders, noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.”

For those who haven’t heard, the initative calls for the development of an extremely inexpensive laptop that can be distributed to millions of schoolchildren in developing countries.

“Under present plans, the first production version of the laptop will be powered by an AMD microprocessor and use an open-source Linux-based operating system supplied by Red Hat. Open-source software is not patent protected and can be copied for free. To get the price down, an eight-inch diagonal screen — smaller than standard notebook computers — will run in two modes, with a high-resolution monochrome mode for word processing and a lower-resolution color mode for Internet surfing. It will be powered by both a power adapter, if electricity is available, or through a wind-up mechanism. The device will have wireless capabilities and can network with other units even without Internet access.”

Clearly, Jobs’ intentions were not entirely charitable. Both Apple and Microsoft have started to take the project very seriously – and with good reason. They are concerned that Linux may become the dominant operating system in the developing world.

Intel, on the other hand, “says it isn’t worried about the thought of millions of laptops in developing countries powered by a competitor’s chips. “Our view is that whatever it takes to get computer power to places where it hasn’t been before is a good thing,” says spokesman Chuck Mulloy. “But there will be different flavors of these kind of devices.”

On the surface, it may seem that competition over the device is a bit inappropriate given the importance of the cause. However, it may be a good thing in the long run when you consider the fact that $100 is still far to much money to spend on a computer in many of the world’s poorest nations.

Posted by Sean

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