Sunday, June 28, 2009

$100 Laptop Becomes a $5 PC

The open-source education software developed for the "$100 laptop" can now be loaded onto a $5 USB stick to run aging PCs and Macs with a new interface and custom educational software.

"What we are doing is taking a bunch of old machines that barely run Windows 2000, and turning them into something interesting and useful for essentially zero cost," says Walter Bender, former president of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project. "It becomes a whole new computer running off the USB key; we can breathe new life into millions of decrepit old machines."

Bender left OLPC last year to found Sugar Labs, which promotes the open-source user interface, dubbed Sugar, and educational software originally developed at OLPC. Bender has dubbed the new effort Sugar on a Stick. The software can be downloaded for free from the Sugar Labs website as part of the new initiative, which will be announced at a conference in Berlin today.

The Sugar interface was custom-designed for children. The new Sugar on a Stick download features 40 software programs, including core applications called Read, Write, Paint, and Etoys. Many other applications are available for download, most of which emphasize creative collaboration among children. The USB software can boot up an aging computer, or a netbook, and save data from any of the programs.

The Sugar interface and related software have already been used by more than one million children, nearly all of them users of the original OLPC XO laptop.

And now, with Sugar available to run old computers, the OLPC learning model can expand in a new direction. "Putting Sugar on a stick is absolutely the right thing to do," Negroponte added.

By David Talbot


  1. Open source just went to the next level. It is opening many more possibilities for the education sector. Reviving old obsolete computers is an opportunity that is clearly a necessity for communities that cannot afford pricey technology. The world is full of redundant computers which can become operational immediately at no cost, with the full rage range of basic applications needed to participate meaningfully. This is an opportunity that cannot be missed.

  2. Thanks for sharing, we have to get this message out to the teachers who are so muh in need of this.Lets keep on sharing!Thanks.