OLPC Sugar interface made available on USB

Sugar Labs has released the One Laptop per Child XO-1 interface online for loading onto any USB flash drive greater than 1GB, and will allow it to be used on 'any PC or netbook'

The One Laptop per Child XO-1 interface is now available on a USB stick.

Sugar Labs, responsible for building the low-cost device's OS, has released the interface online for loading onto any USB flash drive greater than 1GB, and will allow it to be used on "any PC or netbook", it said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Called 'Sugar on a Stick v1', Sugar Labs hopes it will help spread the use of the OS in classrooms, without the need for the OLPC device.

An IDC analyst said in February that the OS would be one of the OLPC's more attractive aspects that vendors would be interested in copying for the netbook market.

It is based on the Fedora Linux kernel and can be booted from the memory stick, without the need to be installed over the hard drive's existing OS.

According to Sugar Labs, its OS is used by almost a million students aged five to 12 in some 40 countries. Its social-oriented interface recognises other Sugar-based PCs around it, and interacts with them without the need for internet connection.

Sugar Labs was spun off a year ago after Walter Bender, now its executive director, left the OLPC initiative to start up the not-for-profit spinoff.

OLPC is not the only initiative to bring computing devices to low-income markets with low PC penetration. US-based NComputing has a virtual desktop offering that the company says can be acquired for as little as $70 (£40). NComputing says it sold some one million units last year.

Intel's Classmate PC is another offering, which analyst firm Gartner has labelled more effective in driving the adoption of PCs in emerging markets' educational institutions because of its "classroom-focused approach". This includes networking infrastructure, teacher training and curriculum materials.