Ohio Linux Fest 2007
Both the laptop layout and the Sugar desktop environment, also known as "the OLPC Human Interface", do their jobs well. Our children are accustomed to using Xfce (they have Xubuntu on the one PC they share) but have almost no laptop experience at all. Within seconds even our non-reading three and four year old children were able to put it into action. The three year old figured out how to adjust the screen brightness in just a few seconds, and then show our four old how to do it. From there the four year old was able to find the menu and open the text editor and begin typing. computer literate adults will Probably find it harder to use these laptops than a child because we are geared towards finding everything with the computer mouse, whereas children take almost instantly to using the special "child friendly" keyboard functions.
Although sometimes thought of as being inferior in quality, we found these units to be worth purchasing for our own children when they become available on November 12, 2007. They are really quite durable and functional. And perhaps the most important part, kids love to use them. Our four year old was very disappointed when I insisted he move so others could ogle over it as well. Even today (the fest ended yesterday) our son asked if we could bring it to our hotel room so he could use it.
All in all a great job has been done by everyone involved to make the One Laptop Per Child unit a reality.
This brings me to mention something I suspect many in the Linux user world may not truly appreciate. There was a lot of debate as people mingled about which is the "best" linux distribution. Of course there are more geeks and wannabe geeks here than at any local Linux User Group (LUG) meeting. Geeks tend to like to out-geek each other, in the same way as a linebacker loves to put a good hit on a Quarterback. And when all else fails to prove one is truly more of a Geek than the other, the conversation turns to a philosophical and speculative nature just as the Sunday Football pre-game Show.
I'm not going to show any favoritism here. In all honestly every Linux distribution is as important to Linux as a whole as any other. Ubuntu users tend to think Ubuntu is the best, Debian users think Debian is the best and Ununtu is merely using the Debian project. Fedora users even try to compare Fedora to Ubuntu...and on and on.
But in reality each one plays a vital part in the overall Linux community. Fedora, Debian, Slackware, SUSE, Gentoo, etc., concentrate on developing and refining the use of new technologies. They are not interested in trying to compete with Ubuntu or anyone else in a desktop popularity contest.
On the other side of the Linux house are those who pull all these great technological advancements into cohesive distributions concentrating on desktop environments, server setups, and embedded devices. In the middle ground are distributions such as Zenwalk Linux, Wolvix, Ark Linux, Frugalware, BugnuX, etc., who fill the gaps and holes in between. If there is one thing I would love people to learn from Linux events such as this, it's that we are all necessary and working to fill our niche.