Going Overboard on Open Source (AAPL)

Nov.15.05 | About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

The Stalwart submits: There's been a lot of hype lately about the development of a $100 laptop for use in the developing world. I'm curious if anyone has ever heard of/seen the movie The First $20 Million is Always The Hardest. It's an absurdly anachronistic dot-com tale about some Stanford kids trying to build a $100 PC. It's really really terrible, but somehow I found myself amused by it.

Also, the Wall St. Journal (reg. req.) today talks about the companies involved with this project. One passage really caught my eye:

Steve Jobs, Apple Computer Inc.'s chief executive, offered to provide free copies of the company's operating system, OS X, for the machine, according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative's founders. "We declined because it's not open source," says Dr. Papert, noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Open source advocates have a reputation for being overly dogmatic but this is pretty extreme. Here's a well-designed, very easy to use and well supported operating system that is being offered for free, but it's being rejected for not being open-source. Oh yeah, because the kids in the villages really need to tinker with the source code. God forbid they use computers that are easily compatible with most of the computers in the developed world. Way to place your priorities guys!