[Marketing] [Sugar-devel] netbook as terminology

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Fri Jul 3 10:36:04 EDT 2009

When we began the project, I lobbied to call it a Children's Machine (CM) in
reference both to Seymour Papert's book and as a reference to the CM series
of "connection machines" that Danny Hillis created at Thinking Machines,
another effort where they through away the rules to make a solution to fit a
class of problems rather than make the problem fit the solution.

Of course, XO is a brilliant name, that come from our design team as I
recall, and I don't doubt that it was the correct decision for OLPC at the

I don't know that we should decide to push a name change on the market. The
point I will make at the Desktop Summit is that the marketing of netbooks
with 3G set an expectation that they are part of the "cloud" and that the
push for bigger, fatter, faster netbooks has eroded the opportunity to think
about new approaches to computing that smaller and lighter afford. But there
remain opportunities to redefine the desktop, keeping it relevant, in many
areas, ours being K-6. Even in the "developed" world, the Internet is not
everywhere, e.g., most classrooms, and as much as it has been good for the
service providers to pitch it as true, the cloud is not right solution to
every problem.


On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 7:10 AM, Sean DALY <sdaly.be at gmail.com> wrote:

> Netbook is not a neutral word and as such is a very useful one.
> It's important however to make a context distinction: the word makes
> no sense in developing countries which lack Internet infrastructure
> let alone electricity in rural areas. So it's perfectly understandable
> that Professor Negroponte opposes it.
> There's another reason: it describes a class of machines, while the XO
> is in a class by itself. Although Asus is often credited with
> "starting" the netbook craze, the EeePC's direct technical predecessor
> was the XO-1. And the XO-1 was and is superior in many ways (bimodal
> screen, mesh networking, robustness).
> Finally, OLPC is a nonprofit education project, not a laptop project;
> "competition" with OEMs is not OLPC's goal.
> So, three good reasons for OLPC's founder to oppose the word. And I
> agree that at this point we shouldn't call the XO-1 a netbook. Why
> don't we ask Christian (when he has time) to put in: "... the One
> Laptop per Child XO-1, predecessor of today's netbooks".
> Since there is indeed at this time a new class of small, light
> laptops, often with solid-state disk, without optical media drive,
> with keyboards running from cosy to very cramped. Generally speaking,
> they run GNU/Linux well and Windows XP poorly (Windows Vista not at
> all). Although initially conceived for grownups on the go as
> "satellite" machines to big laptops and desktops, OEMs have discovered
> that their small form factor and low price make them suitable for
> children. They are less robust than the XO-1, but that is less of an
> issue in the developed countries.
> As Microsoft has a very weak offer on these machines, they are doing
> everything they can to block the word. So they rebaptize them "Ultra
> Low Cost Personal Computers" (this is from the sticker underneath my
> Dell Latitude 2100 education netbook). They put pressure on OEMs to
> beef up the specs (faster processors, HDD instead of SSD, larger
> screen, larger form factor) so Windows XP can run a little better (and
> increase the chances Windows 7 will run). This strategy will actually
> be catastrophic for OEMs, because the result will be a blurring of the
> boundary between big trad laptops and netbooks, and in the curent
> economic climate many people will choose smaller units instead. A new
> class of ARM-based nertbooks is arriving and Microsoft has no version
> of Windows available for it except the very limited Windows CE; this
> has them very worried, witness what happened at Computex with Asus a
> month ago when Microsoft had them remove their ARM netbook from the
> booth. The netbook category by the way is the only growing PC
> category, and is growing very quickly according to NPD.
> All this creates a real opportunity for OEMs and distros to take over
> the entry level of the market. But, as it happens, that entry level
> remains suitable for children who don't need a more powerful machine.
> Now for Sugar. Sugar is a nonprofit education project too, but with
> potentially much wider reach than OLPC since thanks to its Linux
> underpinnings, it can run on almost everything. This is a key strength
> of Sugar and it serves us to mention that Sugar can run on old PCs,
> netbooks, and Macs as well as new laptops and PCs... and the XO.
> thanks
> Sean
> On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 12:26 PM, Bill Kerr<billkerr at gmail.com> wrote:
> > On Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 1:51 AM, Walter Bender <walter.bender at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >>
> >> 7. I'll be giving a keynote at GUADEC
> >> [http://www.grancanariadesktopsummit.org/]; my plan is to both
> >> introduce Sugar to the broader desktop community (with the goal of
> >> recruiting more contributors), to sing the praises of the desktop—the
> >> cloud is not the solution to all problem—but also .articulate the need
> >> for more simplicity along the entire spectrum from developers to end
> >> users
> >
> > at least three interesting points there from walter
> >
> > sing the praises of the desktop
> > the cloud is not the solution to all problem
> > the need for more simplicity along the entire spectrum from developers to
> > end users
> >
> > I'd love to hear an expansion of these positions
> >
> > Also noticed recently that NN reacted against the "netbook" terminology:
> > http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/2009/07/xo-is-not-netbook.html
> > Negroponte: "Kids in Ethiopia don't have the internet in a nearby cloud
> ..."
> >
> > And just noticed that the sugar labs home page describes the xo as a
> > netbook: http://www.sugarlabs.org/
> >
> > --
> > Bill Kerr
> > http://billkerr2.blogspot.com/
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Sugar-devel mailing list
> > Sugar-devel at lists.sugarlabs.org
> > http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/sugar-devel
> >
> >

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs
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