$100 laptop scheme insists on open source

Apple's free Mac OS X offer to the developing world project was shunned on the grounds that it's proprietary

The organisation behind the creation of a $100 (£57) laptop for the developing world has refused an offer of free software from Apple.

According to a report in the The Wall Street Journal,  Apple boss Steve Jobs offered to equip each of the machines with a gratis copy of Mac OS X.

Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT and one of the project's founders, said the scheme had refused Jobs' offer on the grounds that Mac OS X is a proprietary system.

"We declined because it's not open source," Papert told The Wall Street Journal,  adding that the $100 laptop creators will only choose an operating system where the source code is open and can be altered.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Software behemoth Microsoft has also yet to determine its involvement in the $100 laptop scheme, although at present the use of open source software will preclude it from contributing a Windows operating system.

However, Bill Gates met with Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT's Media Lab, who is involved with the $100 laptop project, to discuss Microsoft's participation in the scheme, The Wall Street Journal  reported.

"While we can confirm that we are currently in discussions with Mr Negroponte regarding OLPC [one laptop per child], we cannot comment on the specifics of these discussions," said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

"Negroponte's effort is ambitious and will take collaboration with hardware, software, government and NGO partners to achieve it. We've been engaged with him and his people to help overcome some of the technology challenges they face," she added.

Negroponte will demonstrate a working prototype of the wind-up laptop at the World Summit on the Information Society on Tuesday.