After much ado, One Laptop Per Child finally unveiled its $100 laptop prototype, reports ars technica. The press finally got to feast its eyes on the much-anticipated and sometimes criticized laptop for school children in the developing world.
The laptop sports a garish orange and yellow shell, swivelling antennae and a large touchpad, but there's no hand crank as in earlier prototypes. The appeal to school kids is obvious in the colorful design.
The laptop runs on a specially modified version of Fedora Core 5, and this prototype currently hosts a complete GNOME environment. Called Sugar, the OLPC interface is built with Python, GTK, and Mozilla's Gecko HTML rendering engine. This laptop has an integrated chat system with a custom protocol that leverages Zeroconf, which eases the transmission of graphics and web page links. Graphics are then converted converted to SVG and embedded directly in the HTML of the chat pane.
Here's Red Hat developer Chris Blizzard the Sugar interface:
This laptop is first and foremost a tool for expression. For kids, that means being able to express with text, but it also means drawing, music, whatever. We want to make sure that we have a more rich experience than just text can deliver. So we've been experimenting a bit with allowing drawing in chat. As time goes on we'll start to add other interesting types to the chat. We hope that it will be possible to share music that kids have created as well as images that they find. This isn't as far fetched as it sounds - there's already a music activity in the works."
The arrival of this prototype has been met with some criticism, however. The antennae are an unusual design decision which blocks the ports when they are down. The oversized touch pad may be triggered when typing and not everyone thinks the bright colors are a good idea. Despite the negative criticisms, the verdict on current $100 laptop prototype is still out. One thing that everyone agrees on, however, is that if OLPC can actually go into production for the cost of $100, it would have a wild-ranging implication for education in the developing world.