Negroponte strikes back at Gates over $100 laptop

Negroponte calls for bloat-free Linux that his scaled-back machines can comfortably run, changes handcrank for foot pedal power.

Nick Negroponte struck back at Bill Gates over his stinging criticism of the $100 laptop. Speaking at LinuxWorld Boston, the former head of the MIT Media Lab said, "When you have both Intel and Microsoft on your case, you know you're doing something right," the Washington Post reports.

Negroponte expressed frustration with Gates in particular, saying that the $100 laptop designers are still working with Microsoft to develop a version of the Windows CE operating system that could run the machines.

"Geez, so why criticize me in public?" Negroponte said.

Negroponte also called on Linux developers to create a slimmed-down version of the OS that would work on low-end devices like the $100 laptop, News.com reported

"People aren't thinking about small, fast, thin systems," said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of the One Laptop Per Child nonprofit association, in a speech at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo here. "Suddenly it's like a very fat person (who) uses most of the energy to move the fat. And Linux is no exception. Linux has gotten fat, too."

He said the widely publicized designs of the machine with a handcrank will not work because the hand cranking would subject the computer to much stress. Now there's an AC adapter. "In fact, because the adapter can rest on the ground, the power generator might take the form of a foot pedal rather than a hand crank altogether," the Post reported.

Negroponte's current plan is to begin distributing 5 million to 10 million of the laptops in China, India, Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria and Argentina by early 2007.

Governments or donors will buy the laptops for children to own and use in and out of school, and the United Nations will help distribute the machines.

Eventually, Negroponte expects many other governments _ and not just those in technology-deprived places _ to come onboard. For example, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has expressed interest in buying the machines for schoolchildren here.

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