Greg DeKoenigsberg Speaks

Fedora, meet OLPC. OLPC, meet Fedora.

Posted in Uncategorized by Greg DeKoenigsberg on July 8, 2008

Did you know that the OLPC project is the largest single “customer” of Fedora in the entire world?

The rumours of OLPC’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Despite some unfortunate statements by the project’s erstwhile CEO, the OLPC project is still *extremely* focused on succeeding in its noble goal — the education of the world’s children — with the use of free software as the central component of their software strategy. And they are, in fact, succeeding, even though the open source community has largely turned its collective back on that success. Which is, I think, a shame.

Let me share some numbers with you. They might surprise you. I know they surprised me when I heard them a few weeks ago at FUDCon.

OLPC has shipped over 300,000 units to kids around the world. They plan to ship at least another 50,000 more each month, and very likely more than that. It’s entirely possible that by the end of 2008, there will be a million OLPC systems deployed worldwide.

Of those systems, 100% of them currently run Fedora, and 0% of them currently run Windows — despite the press clippings you may have read.

The OLPC project is based on Fedora. The engineers at OLPC have invested thousands of person-hours in making Fedora a successful base for OLPC deployments. Fedora is now, and will continue to be, the base operating system for the OLPC project. Period.

It’s time for the Fedora community to step up and represent.

* * *

There will be many opportunities for members of the Fedora community and the OLPC communities to help one another in the coming months. I intend to spend most of my time identifying those opportunities and helping to making them happen.

The first opportunities are for the Fedora packagers. This work can be done right now, today.

Understandably, the OLPC folks want to focus their efforts on the challenges that are unique to the OLPC project. Which means that they should be shedding all work that can more easily be handled by others. Package maintenance is a perfect example of this kind of work.

Here is a list of packages that are either badly needed by OLPC and are unavailable in Fedora, or are currently being maintained, poorly, by overworked OLPC engineers who can’t invest enough time to do them justice. There are lots of simple issues that even novice packagers could handle. Missing or broken dependencies. Creation of dead-simple activity packages. And so on.

If there’s one thing that Fedora community engineers do exceptionally well, it’s package maintenance. If every current Fedora packager volunteered to own one single package that is crucial to OLPC, we would immediately free the core OLPC team for much more strategic work. It’s a big, immediate win, and the entire OLPC team will be delighted to receive your help.

Fedora packagers: please consider adopting one of these packages and giving it a loving home. I will keep asking. :)

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