OLPC's Open Source Rift Deepens
The situation at One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), the organization behind the "$100 laptop," looks like it's going from bad to worse. As we've reported before, key personnel have recently walked out on the project. At the center of the conflict appears to be the issue of how deep the laptop's open source roots should be.
Because the founders of OLPC wanted the system to be completely open to inspection and tinkering, using anything other than open-source software was not acceptable -- even at the cost of usability. Steve Jobs apparently offered to donate the Macintosh operating system, known as OS X -- but Papert declined this offer, explicitly because OS X isn't open source. To Papert, letting children inspect, modify, and improve the underlying operating system was an educational imperative.
Just two days ago, another voice joined the fray: None other than Richard Stallman, who coined the term "free software" and wrote the original GNU Public License, indicated his extreme displeasure over the movement toward Windows on the OLPC.