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Puppy Linux founder comments on the OLPC project - 5/16/2006 7:18:23 AM   


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Puppy Linux still wants to be the Linux operating system that powers the laptop computers in the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, distro originator Barry Kauler says in an article published May 13 on the Puppy OS website.

The OLPC project, headed up by former MIT Media Lab head Nicholas Negroponte, signed Red Hat as a major sponsor early in the process. Because of that commitment, most observers believe that some form of Red Hat Linux will power the laptops -- most likely Fedora Core, Red Hat's community distribution. However, no official word has emerged from the OLPC project regarding which Linux OS will, in fact, be used.

Taiwan's Quanta Computer has been selected to build the hardware for the OLPC laptop.

If the Puppy fits...

Because the OLPC spec calls for 128MB of system DRAM and Puppy Linux weighs in at only around 60MB of memory footprint, Kauler and a number of Puppy enthusiasts believe it is the right distro for the project.

"Puppy is designed for this kind of situation from the ground-up," writes Kauler. "Extremely fast, very small footprint, a full set of applications, limited writes to flash [storage memory] to extend its life indefinitely. There are no compromises -- if you have read commentary about the OLPC project from various sources, you would think that an operating system and applications squeezed into such a minimal system would be severely compromised. Not so."

Having not received any prototype of the OLPC, Kauler nonetheless made tests on the closest twin of OLPC he could get his hands on, Devon IT's NTA terminal, which has has a 433MHz VIA Eden CPU and a 128MB CompactFlash card. Kauler reports that "with Puppy, the responsiveness is mostly immediate. Everything happens in a fraction of a second, and it feels like a 2GHz CPU running XP." From the end of the device's power-on-self-test to the point where the Linux desktop is fully loaded and ready to use takes around 46 seconds, according to Kauler; the power-down sequence take about 20 seconds.

Kauler also presents a long list of applications that are included in Puppy Linux, and notes that the distro has not yet reached its limit. "I can very easily put in more major applications, still within the limits of the OLPC hardware," he writes.

"We Puppy enthusiasts were saddened to read of the disappointment of the developers of the OLPC laptop manufacturers, testing Linux, due to the extreme slowness," Kauler explains. "That was the main catalyst that prompted me to write this page. Okay, we don't have the $2 million to pay like Red Hat, but we do have a system that works well."

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