April 27, 2008

It is the poor carpenter who blames his tools...

This week, OLPC had a dust up, a kerfuffle even. Walter Bender, OLPC's former president of sofware, left the organization. Why? Well, some think it was because of the possibility that XP will be installed on the OLPC. Later in the week, Nicolas Negroponte decided to share with the world that he felt it was the fault of the open source community that the OLPC wasn't enjoying the success he promised. Some people even bought it.

You see, when the highly successful Give One Get One lost the orders of 16k people. That was the fault of open source. Clearly. Duh!

Widely reported apparently unfixable (?) problems, with the keyboards, that was clearly the Linux kernel's fault, causing keys to stick to each other.

Significant delays in manufacturing, that have nothing I'm sure to do with the scope and timing of the project, are clearly the fault of the python interpreter that Sugar runs on.

Sarcasm aside, the problems with the OLPC are surmountable and its goals are likely still achievable, given the right kind of ministration. I know this because I was in the Linux hardware business for a while and it's not always easy, but it will take serious, detailed execution, not blaming the community of developers who have done nothing but give away their software to the world for it to use.

Blaming open source developers for the problems of a platform is absurd, blaming your own development cycle, well, maybe that makes more sense, but that's not what happened. I understand that shipping tricky hardware + a new interface on top of Linux, or any kernel, can be hard. But blaming open source for what's going on at OLPC seems, well, distractingly nasty.

Which brings me to this article, it is worth reading as a study in how weird coverage of open source can get.

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