Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software Linux Hardware

Thin Client With OSS for Developing Nations 252

Posted by Zonk
from the spreading-the-penguin-love dept.
FridayBob writes "The BBC has a story on a new, ultra-thin client that a group of not-for-profit developers, Ndiyo, hope will open up the potential of computing to people in the developing world. Not surprisingly, their system uses open source software. The system runs Ubuntu Linux with a Gnome/KDE deskto and OpenOffice. From the article: 'Licences for software are often a significant part of expenditure for smaller companies which rely on computers. But a recent UK government study, yet to be formally published, has shown that open source software can significantly reduce school budgets dedicated to computing set-ups.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Thin Client With OSS for Developing Nations

Comments Filter:
  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Friday April 29, 2005 @08:43PM (#12389439)
    What about thin clients for models? They regurgitate whatever information you feed them.
  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Friday April 29, 2005 @08:46PM (#12389458) Homepage Journal
    A better solution for the third world is a bootable cdrom image that comes up with a minimal system including:
    1. Wireless mesh software and drivers from widely available and now very cheap 802.11b cards.
    2. A web browser with good javascript/xsl support.

    Such a bootable cdrom (based on Slackware) is already available from LocustWorld [mirror.ac.uk].

    Maybe the Ubuntu guys should port it over from Slackware.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      this is actually a flasher cdrom that will write an image to a hard driver (immediately and without much warning or fanfare)...
    • by stubear (130454) on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:18PM (#12389622)
      No, the third world needs a source of clean drinking water, democratic governments instead of tinpot dictators and warlords, education on how to grow crops instead of remaining nomadic herders, better housing, and public schools to name a few things. Computers don't even rate on any list of things the third world needs.
      • by NanoGator (522640) on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:46PM (#12389745) Homepage Journal
        "No, the third world needs a source of clean drinking water..."

        Yeah, it's such a pity that OSS developers can't write clean water.
      • So, a poster here at Slashdot knows more about the needs of the "third world" than the people who live and work there. Hmmm, maybe you should just stick to Soviet Russia and Korea.
      • What the third world needs is to not lose track of its traditional cultures of self-sufficiency -- even if that means high infant mortaility, short life-span, tribal skirmishes and no "democracy" or computers.

        Hopefully however these cultures can learn from the sickness pervading the developed world as a result of urbanization and retain some of their roots while they admit technology as a defensive measure.

        And developed peoples need to stop thinking of "poverty" in terms of monetary income -- but rathe

        • What if you donated a few hundred PDAs pre-stocked with videos (not language bound, if at all possible) on topics such as well-building, agriculture, 'health', child rearing ... solar powered, of course ...
        • sells papers.

          But it's really not all that bad.

          And however bad it is, it's much better than high infant mortality and short lifespans (and don't forget brutal dictators and violent religious strife).

          The only thing worse I can think of than dying young due to an easily preventable disease or lack of food is having your child die from an easily preventable disease or lack of food.

          I guess maybe all of the above while the dictator's kids grow fat and healthy and the local gang cuts your arms off to claim the
          • And however bad it is, it's much better than high infant mortality and short lifespans (and don't forget brutal dictators and violent religious strife).

            Brutal dictators and violent religious strife aren't characteristics of traditional tribal culture -- they're characteristics of development gone awry as it so often does.

            High infant mortality and short lifespans have been with humans for a very long time. People are built to suffer those losses more than they're built to not even know why they're tryi

      • Huh?

        Now, I'm pretty sure that there are places that are just like you described... but I guess it's not a rule.

        See, I live at Brasil... we're on the third world, but we're also a democracy, as every other country here at South America.

        And we know how to grow crops very well, indeed our governament agency for agriculture, EMBRAPA, develloped some amazing stuff like plague resistant varieties of a number of vegetables, that are also more productive. And agriculture is an industry around here, we have a hig
      • No, the third world needs a source of clean drinking water, democratic governments instead of tinpot dictators and warlords, education on how to grow crops instead of remaining nomadic herders, better housing, and public schools to name a few things.

        A low cost, low power computer, can help with all of those. Given a suitable stack of CD's, or even better, an internet connection the computer becomes a library, language tool, political instrument and weather forcaster.

        With one or two shared amongst a vill
    • I've been waiting for a bootable CD-ROM that does only this:

      1). Detects simple hardware i.e. video, mouse, lan, enough for 2D X Windows.

      2). Gets an IP address via DCHP and generates a unique computer name.

      3). Boots to a Remote Desktop login screen without needing to know beforehand a list of computers. Simply, the same as MSTSC where you enter the username, password and computer/server name/address.

      This would cut down many licenses and make Windows thin client networking a breeze. I guess there are num
      • The problem with your idea, and it is a good one excepting this: Windows TS requires a license for every connection to the server. win2k/xp+ have that license built in, but anything different and you need to install licenses on the server to accomidate them.

        Which typically will run you around 150-200 per seat.
        • I see what you are saying, and realize it may be a concern for some. But CALs we can handle. A full desktop OS installed, we do not want. The specs on the clients would be minimal to re-use older hardware, without having to upgrade every machine in our organization to run XP efficiently.
    • We have a similar effort [sourceforge.net] going on to provide low cost computing for public schools. After much thought, we finally weighed in for a live CD solution over thin clients, because networking still requires maintenance, bandwidth is an issue and still expensive since these schools use donated hardware. We will be using a light weight modified Ubuntu Live CD with XFCE4 as the default desktop, which will be copied and run from the hard disk.
  • interesting approach (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I read their white paper. It's not a diskless boot setup. Rather it sends the screen image over Ethernet.
  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lukesed (880145) <<moc.loa> <ta> <yendesekul>> on Friday April 29, 2005 @08:49PM (#12389473)
    I have no idea what this story is about. Seriously.
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Troll)

      by EinarH (583836)
      It's only in USA that clueless people get rated as interesting and funny...

      [/trollmode]

    • -1: Google is your friend
  • TCO (Score:3, Funny)

    by xx_chris (524347) on Friday April 29, 2005 @08:50PM (#12389485)
    100 pounds!? Don't they understand that by using open source software their total cost of ownership will be much greater than if they used Windows. Get with program, poor people. Make Bill richer.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday April 29, 2005 @08:53PM (#12389501) Homepage Journal
    Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US? They'd have much better chances of success in our society, already geared for computer-readiness, in becoming popular - or gaining entry at all. Poor Americans have less of a culture gap to close to become computer users, and are much more able to bootstrap themselves into becoming unsubsidized computer consumers like the rest of us. And American products filter out to the rest of the world after they're out of fashion here, so feeding the American poor would eventually feed the foreign poor, too. Without setting up the foreign poor as better competitors to our domestic poor, upon whom we all depend. The products would be easier to produce and distribute. Aren't our own poor people worth helping?
    • Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US?

      Because the barrier to entry really isn't much of a barrier in the US. Dell sells a $300 machine, Walmart a $200 one. If you can't save up for that $200 Walmart box, you can't save up for the $100 one either. The only other option would be 'free'.

      • There are plenty of Americans who can't afford a $100 computer, just like the many foreigners. And the difference between even a $100 and $200 computer is $100, which is double, either here or abroad. Poverty means not having enough to eat, let alone invest in a computer, regardless of which currency you lack.
        • Right. And as I said, the next option would have to be 'free'. A $200 machine here in the states is already 'low cost'.

          Meanwhile, thousands of perfectly serviceable PC's are literally thrown out every year by companies in the states. Let's use those.

          Then we get into what the machines in the article are to be used for. Company desktop replacments, networked to a central server. Not standalone home use.

        • Well, if $200 is $100 too much for you to afford a computer, you probably can't afford $10/month for Internet access. There's other stuff you can do with a computer of course -- but for those purposes you can get a computer for $100, and a lot less, since so many old computers are floating around. If you can hook up with the right charity, you can get an old machine running Window 3.1 or Linux for free.
          • The poor foreigners are in an even worse Internet situation. Why are they a better target for these programmes?
            • Because cheap computers are in abundance in the US. You want cheaper than the $200 Walmart box? Go to eBay, and plug in PII. $69 Dell and Compaq PII/300 laptops.
              $25 PIII/550 desktops.
              A Compaq PIII/1.0ghz currently bidding at $57. Hell, that is faster than MY main PC was until a few months ago.

              Cheap PC's are very easy to get in the US, if you want one. And if you want the free option, the local library usually has one.

    • Perhaps because this system is being developed in the UK where they have a long tradition of developing cheaper computers. Clive Sinclair, Alan Sugar, and many of their emulators hail from there. The simputer was IIRC developed in India, which is in the third world.
    • Computers cheaper than the ones we already have can't be made commercially -- there's just no way to do it and make a profit. So the vendor has to be a charity. Now, if you're a charity and you think more poor Americans need to have computers, you're not going to subsidize the development of a new kind of computer. You just going to go out, buy standard computers, and sell them at a loss. Or (more likely) give them away. I believe some charities already do this.

      If you read past the headlines, you see that

    • I think you're confusing "cheap computers" with "cheap computer access."

      TFA pointed out that the target users couldn't possibly afford to put any type of computer in their homes. Not even a $100 thin client, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Besides, buying a thin client won't suffice as a stand-alone home computer. You need a server to run it from. This isn't an entry-level desktop computer.

      The 'thin client' system (see www.ltsp.org for a more detailed explanation) plugs one or two dozen of these thin clients
      • And there are plenty of American communities without them. What many poor people in America, as anywhere, lack, is a group of people to shepherd them through the process of becoming users, in addition to access they can afford. There's no confusion, except the confusion of
        "worthy poor" with "foreign".
    • News just in. This isn't an American company [newnhamresearch.com]

      And perhaps the 'foreign poor' *should* be competitors to the 'American' poor.

      'And American products filter out to the rest of the world after they're out of fashion here, so feeding the American poor would eventually feed the foreign poor, too. '

      so naive. when's it going to happen then?
      • News to you: most of these projects have been American, and I referred to the projects as a group. More news: I have no interest in subsidizing foreigners to compete more effectively with my neighbors. Another revelation: poor foreign neighborhoods are awash in old American castoffs, from clothing to TV to movies - as any traveler in these places knows well.

        So deluded by your own preconceptions. No more free clues for you.
    • by EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) * on Friday April 29, 2005 @10:30PM (#12389947) Homepage Journal
      Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US?

      Well first off, this article is about people in the UK. These thin clients are also designed for a centralized computer center, school, or business; not home use.

      Second of all, in urban areas of the US, there ARE projects like this. Unfortunately, they don't get alot of news coverage-- not sexy enough I guess. They are small, poorly funded, poorly organized, stuck in politics, stuck in government bureaucracy, and there aren't that many of them. But they do exist.

      There are also projects which can help in this sort of realm:

      http://www.ltsp.org/ [ltsp.org]
      http://www.osef.org/ [osef.org] (They've been quiet for a while).

      Looks like you are NYC, and I don't know what's available over there.

      There are projects. And yes our own poor people are worth helping, but that doesn't mean you can't help the poor people in developing nations.
      • Looks like you are NYC, and I don't know what's available over there.
        Guido will sell you a home computer, complete with all sorts of software and user data already installed, delivered straight from his trunk^Wwarehouse, for $50.00.

      • I know they had a project around here where IT professionals donated their time to teach poorer kids how to use the internet. Unfortunatly, I don't think these kids had computers at home.

        What I'd like to see is an organization that takes old machines, rebuilds them with OSS that a machine can run on without dragging ass, and passes them out to less affluent people.

        I know there are parts of the city where a kid could probably afford the $7/mo for unlimited dialup, but probably couldn't afford a $300 machi
    • Aren't our own poor people worth helping?

      There sure is a lot of us vs. them in your comment.

      Personally, I am a citizen of the world--the extent to which I feel charitable toward the poor does not follow along national government borders.

      If "our" poor are worth helping, what are you doing to help them?

      • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @12:08AM (#12390392) Homepage Journal
        I care more about my neighbors than about your neighbors. It's economics and basic recognition of how human empathy actually works in practice. I work with the NY City Council, frequently advising how tech can create opportunities for disadvantaged people. I spend hundreds, thousands of hours a year doing that, which affects literally millions of my poor neighbors directly, and millions farther away indirectly, by example. What do you do, other than posting holier-than-thou comments to Slashdot?
    • Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US?

      Because, for many users, this sort of technology just cannot deliver the user experience they want.

      I've spent 3.5 years running a cybercafe in France that sounds remarkably like their proposed setup - 10 diskless terminals connected to a fast Linux server. For many things it's fine. But try watching a realplayer video over a remote X session and watch the network saturate. This proposal

  • FPGAs vs. SOCs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:02PM (#12389544) Homepage
    I wonder if their FPGA-based design is really cheaper than using a Geode or Xilleon.
    • I don't know the answer to your question, but I also wonder if their FPGA design will also be open-sourced?
      • But are there good OSS programs to implement the Verilog or VHDL into a format that can be loaded onto the FPGA?
        • Does it really matter that much if the free-as-in-beer tools from Altera and/or Xilinx can synthesise the design? We could have a philosophical discussion for a week about the relative merits of free-as-in-speech vs free-as-in-beer, but at the end of the day that's all that's available for synthesis, so you have to use it...
  • by NtroP (649992) on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:05PM (#12389561)
    We use Thinstation [thinstation.org] thin-clients here connecting to either Win2k3 Terminal servers or Xandros Terminal Servers.

    The benefits of thin-clients are many. First, the client can be really bare bones (i.e. no HD, minimal RAM, low-end graphics, low processesor speeds, etc) so they can be cheap ($170 + monitor from WalMart or donated machines). Second, to upgrade all your workstations (perfomrance-wise) all you need to do is upgrade or add another server - not hundreds of workstations. Third, to upgrade all you clients (software-wise), you just upgrade the software on a few servers. Managing one or two Win2K3 servers for viruses, patches, malware, etc, beats the hell out of 200 WinXP workstations!

    There are other benefits, but these are the ones that have really made a difference for us. Don't get me wrong, thin-clients aren't the answer for everything. There are many situations where you need to have a fully functioning workstation. However, with the money you save on thin-clients, you can afford to get really good workstations, which in turn can be turned into thin-clients when they are needing to be upgraded.

    Most of our users simply need a means of doing basic office tasks like word-processing, spreadsheets, email, web-surfing, etc. Those are perfect for thin-clients.

    What would I want to have to make it better? Easy. First, get OpenOffice to work properly on a Win2K3 terminal server, It's not real good in a multi-user environment like that (unless I'm doing something wrong - possible). And the number 1 thing that would make it better: can you say "Tiger Terminal Server Edition"?

    • First, the client can be really bare bones (i.e. no HD, minimal RAM, low-end graphics, low processesor speeds, etc) so they can be cheap ($170 + monitor from WalMart or donated machines).

      Yep, thin clients are great, when used in the right places. And they have many advantages. But... price isn't one of them. Not yet, anyway.

      Where I live, PC's up to around 200 MHz. (original Pentium and below) are effectively free. You want one? Look around, hand over a sixpack of beer, and you have one.

      Now with a $1

    • " Easy. First, get OpenOffice to work properly on a Win2K3 terminal server, It's not real good in a multi-user environment like that (unless I'm doing something wrong - possible)."

      How is it with just plain old X? If all you are doing is simple office, email, websurfing etc I just don't see how you could justify the cost of a w3k terminal server system. YOu not only have to pay for the server but you have to pay for each client that connects no matter what they are using to connect with.
  • I have never understood the idea that "third world" people want, need, or have to settle for "miraculous" $100 computers or thin clients. The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less. It's all about what the market will bare. This thin client bull shit is just more of the same non-solution looking for a non-problem. People in "third world" countries that want computers have them, and tho
    • by grcumb (781340) on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:47PM (#12389751) Homepage Journal

      "The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less."

      Welcome to the land of Generalisation, where one anecdotal observation trumps any need for actual data!

      Sorry to be so crude, but what you're saying is so hopelessly wrong that it just about made me jump out of my chair. How do I know it's wrong? Because I'm sitting right now in a developing nation that adds a 40% duty to all imported computer goods. I cannot buy a new PC of any kind for less than USD 1000. (That's about 6 times the legal monthly minimum wage.)

      I've spoken with officials from the department of trade, and they've been extremely receptive to the fact that high computing costs are a huge barrier to development. In fact, they're in the process of lowering those barriers. But even then, the best we could expect would be a roughly $4-500 computer, which still represents a huge amount of money for the average person. When you're earning very little money, every dollar has to count.

      So guess what? We used 8 year-old Pentiums to operate as thin clients to connect to 'modern' PIII 450s running Ubuntu. Here's the press release [www.news.vu] we just published.

      In fairness, there are a number of countries where computer hardware is cheap. But the fact that some developing countries have cheap computers does not mean that 'the developing world has cheap computers'.

      • You, my friend, gave me this idea for Thin Screen Computer - namely, to avoid outrageous import duties, only LCD screens would be imported (and keyboard/mouse, too) and the actual computer will remain in the U.S. or wherever.
    • " The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less."

      Can you cite an example of that? It seems to me that shipping alone would cost most of that.

      Note: I'm ignorant on this topic. I'm not challenging your point.
    • Upgrade costs. These thin-clients should never need to be upgraded -- the entire raw screen display is streamed over the network, and only the server does any actual computing. Coupling this with the "plug and play" clustering they mention in their presentation for servers, the costs of upgrades are greatly, greatly reduced.
    • OT as usual (Score:4, Informative)

      by rathehun (818491) on Saturday April 30, 2005 @01:08AM (#12390566) Homepage
      As I have mentioned earlier, the point of these stories is often lost on slashdot. I'm not complaining, just saying so.
      The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less.
      Saeed, where do you live? I live in India, I volunteer at Oxfam in their appropriate technology department, and we have been unable to get boxes - el cheepo, second-hand K6-2s for less than USD 200, with a decent monitor and with a customised, translated version of Linux (free). I would really be interested in the boxes you're talking about, so please do get back to me. Of course, I'm assuming that you're commenting in good faith, not as the nasty troll thing that I keep hearing about!

      The solution that eventually occured was that IBM donated a number of G40e laptops (thank you guys!) so we were able to put low-power, fancy computers out in the field.

      Now the crux of the issue to me, and this is something which I've brought up earlier, so bear with me, is the question, Now What?

      I've got a 2.8 gig 802.11g machine with 512 MB of RAM sitting here, doing what?

      The hard part is making it useful. Not many people out in the villages enjoy reading slashdot regularly, so we have to find useful things that they can use these beasts for.

      Essentially, what we did was to create an information portal, data was downloaded every day over a CDMA 1x connection, and presented in a form which was accesible to people. Weather forecasts, crop and vegetable prices, information about government schemes, employment opportunities in the nearest town and so on. If you want to know more, then drop me a mail and I would be happy to give you full details. Better yet, if you are involved in something similiar, please do get in touch.

      Now the technology part is cool. I designed it to work completely in our favourite browser - Firefox - *ducks*, I used CSS to make sure that when you print out the information it's in an easy to read form. Also, since Open Office, FF, the Linux distro itself a number of other applications have recently been translated into the local language (Tamil) it has been easy for the people themselves to use it, rather than needing either an external person, or to have to painfully learn a new language.
      Just to quickly respond to the infrastructure part, India has been really good at providing communications infrastructure at a grassroots level. Every village is linked with a 2 mbps pipe, and wireless internet using CDMA is fairly easily available. This is a god-send for us, who want to put an IT project in, without having to build this stuff up from scratch. I speak from experience in Indonesia, where we had to transmit using VHF. Fuck, that hurt.

      Now sub-$100 machines are good. But, like someone else was saying here, the people themselves are NOT going to be buying this. It's more likely to be governements, NGOs and the like who do bulk-purchases and then provide them in conjuntion with various other schemes. Remember that in many parts of the world the annual income is less than $350. This is equivalent to somebody paying about $13'000 for a computer in the US (if they earn about $40k, which I assume an IT manager will).

      The technology is cool for us. How useful is it for them?

      R.

  • Great... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eyeball97 (816684) on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:23PM (#12389647)
    Another bunch of do-gooders who think developing nations need cheap PCs. I'm in Africa, my local hardware store's damn near as cheap as I can find on Pricewatch.

    The people you're targeting get paid $50 a month, my friend, and their kids go to a school which is basically 4 walls, a floor, and a roof if they're lucky.

    Oh yes, a server and some thin clients is really what's needed there.

    Not paper and pens. Text books. Teachers. Electricity (what are they planning to plug these things into?).

    The thing about developing nations, is not that they're poor, it's that the divide between the rich and the poor is vast.

    At the other end of the scale, here, you have your rich, your ex-pats, etc - and you have your $5,000/term "International School" organisations who have wireless internet, computer labs, international standard teachers, and they don't need this. Nor do the businesses, most of which are thriving, thank you very much.

    I'm sitting here next to a 3Tb server in my office and a server room full of Dual Xeons next door reading about how developing nations need some sort of solution for cheap computing?

    These people have so lost direction they couldn't find it with both hands and a map.

    It actually looks like a nice system, that would be ideal for reducing costs in schools and some businesses world-wide, I have NO idea what they're doing thinking they're doing this for the good of the "third world".

    If they really want to do something "not for profit", try volunteering for an aids project, a humanitarian project, or a teaching project.

    Sometimes I look at my driver - I pay him $65 a month, and I wonder what he would have been if he'd had the education I did. HE would be sitting in this chair, for a start. I could teach him in front of this PC for a month of Sundays, and it wouldn't make up for the fact he has no basic education.

    • Ah, I see. Your solution is for someone else to fix the problem or volunteer for a humanitarian project, yet you quite concisely point out the problem here:

      it's that the divide between the rich and the poor is vast.

      From your description, these people need a revolution to redistribute the wealth. Obviously the rich people in your country don't really give a fuck.
      • Re:Great... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eyeball97 (816684)
        "My country" is Scotland, as if it matters.

        I don't recall rich people anywhere in the world giving a fuck, generally speaking.

        Revolution? Yeah, that'll work. Gather up every cent in the country, and redistribute it, bring the entire population up to $100 a month instead of $50. I can see how that would help.

    • Well it looks like you are all set up. You get to go to the nice schools, pay somebody to drive you around and make fun of the people trying to help the poor.

      Nice.
  • by bogaboga (793279)
    The system runs Ubuntu Linux with a Gnome/KDE deskto and OpenOffice. From the article:...

    Pay attention to the beef which is OpenOffice. I am afraid that SUN may pull the plug on java, which OO.o has come to heavily rely on of late. SUN could simply change its license. Let's remember that SUN is practically in bed with M$ after having received some big cash ftom M$, and has never criticized SCO for its actions.

    I personally advocate the forking of OO.o portions that are GPLed so that we can finally be fr

    • You're forgetting that there are open source Java projects. Red Hat is using them to compile OpenOffice for the next Fedora version. From what I've heard, it almost works completely.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday April 29, 2005 @09:31PM (#12389683) Homepage Journal
    I don't know about the 3rd world, but the ideal client for most libraries and schools would be:

    1) video, keyboard, mouse, optionally local removable read/write storage
    2) operating system, e.g. Linux, with essential utilities, e.g. firewall and antivirus software
    3) web browser
    4) most common lightweight apps, e.g. low end word processor, and perhaps software specific to the given installation, e.g. front end to a card catalog or other database.
    5) remote access to heavyweight, lightly-used apps like OpenOffice, running on a nearby server

    with hardware just beefy enough to run the local apps plus a few web browser windows plus a few remote-access windows.

    All of this would boot from a read-only, or at least read-only without administrator action, medium, to all but eliminate the threat of malware and end-user malice - reboot and the damage is undone.
    • You could have just said Damn Small Linux [damnsmalllinux.org].

      /rant These types of solutions have been around for years. The only barrier to their adoption in "developed" countries are the MS blinders that most people wear. Not to mention, any time a non-profit thinks of deploying Linux, MS suits show up with free copies of Windows and brand new Dells. Fortunately, the "developing" world doesn't have such preconceived notions.

  • LTSP (Score:3, Informative)

    by diwadm (765932) on Friday April 29, 2005 @11:03PM (#12390126) Homepage
    Here in our university [upd.edu.ph](UP), we've been using LTSP [ltsp.org] to create thin clients. We run a powerful server (2ghz, 1gb ram) and it can host up to 20 Pentium computers.

    What's nice about the thin client setup is that once an application is loaded, it boots really fast on all the clients. For instance, we start OpenOffice on the server and it boots with a second on a client.

    Another advantage with this setup is control. Since all the clients run on the server, we can restrict access and prioritize security.
  • by isny (681711) on Friday April 29, 2005 @11:16PM (#12390183) Homepage
    Cheap and abundant net cafes. People in the developing world don't need to play quake. If they can rent a pc for some period of time, it helps them communicate. Just like the communal pay phone at the general store worked decades ago. Abundancy means they don't have to walk a long distance.
  • I'm all for this kind of experiments, but unless they are able to get above a critical volume and sell for profit and continue to develop the product, the project will die after some time. Either because the funders get fed up pouring money into the project, or because other standards will take over. A better approach may be to design and sell a cheap computer for the industrialised world to get the volume up. They could then set aside part of the production, and sell it for low-profit prices in the third
  • We all would like cheaper computer, and I'm sure these will do a lot of good where they're going. But what a lot of third world nations need more than cheap computers, is a sane economy. To that you need to eliminate the corrupt politics, excessive taxes and barriers to trade (both internally and externally). Yes, the US and Europe have these problems as well, but the reason we're not third world is because we don't have them in excess.
  • But a recent UK government study, yet to be formally published, has shown that open source software can significantly reduce school budgets dedicated to computing set-ups.'"

    So, in other words, mostly free software can save money?
  • Environmental cost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andrew71 (134546) on Friday April 29, 2005 @11:50PM (#12390326) Homepage
    Why is everybody here focusing on price and not on total cost of ownership and environmental costs, which are the real point here IMO?

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

Working...