Report: OLPC may eventually switch from Linux to Windows XP

Insistence on open source scares people away, Negroponte says

The space dilemma

Other low-cost ultra-portable laptops, most notably the Asus Eee, are starting to be made available in both Linux and Windows XP flavors.

And earlier this month, Microsoft vowed to keep XP alive for another 2 years only for low-cost laptops such as the Eee and HP's MiniNote 2133.

But that's not the slimmed-down version of XP that Negroponte told the AP Microsoft had been working on for about a year, apparently with the XO in mind. Instead, for most low-cost laptops, Microsoft is licensing the full Service Pack 2 version of Windows XP Home, which gobbles up 1.1GB of disk space. Moreover, patches and updates such as Service Pack 3 will add about 165 MB to XP each year, according to Microsoft ().

The current XO, meanwhile, comes with only 1 GB of storage. That's more than enough for the existing environment, which includes the Sugar GUI and stripped-down versions of Firefox, Fedora, and other open-source software. Together they take up only 200 MB, leaving 800 MB for students' files.

Using only stripped-down versions of open-source apps has its downsides. For instance, the XO comes with Gnash, an open-source media player, instead of Adobe's Flash player, which is free but not open-source.

Gnash is compatible with Flash apps only until version 8, according to OLPC's own online documentation. Many popular childrens' Web sites such as Webkinz.com and Disney.com require Flash 9.0.

Moreover, OLPC's documentation notes that Flash sites often take 1 GB of free disk space or more -- again, more than is available.

But to accommodate Flash and/or Windows XP, the OLPC may have to equip the XO with a larger solid-state drive, raising the laptop's price again.

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