Brazil Closer to Get Its US$ 100 Linux Laptop

The US$ 100 laptop prototype (about 240 reais) was presented this Wednesday, November 16, in the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) as the great solution for the digital inclusion of needy children in developing countries like Brazil.

The goal of  the MIT’s (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Laboratory is to offer the equipment, in the coming years, to the six largest developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia (Brazil, Nigeria, Egypt, India, China and Thailand).

In the speech he made Wednesday representing Brazil in the  World Summit on Information Society, Brazilian Culture Minister, Gilberto Gil, said that Brazil is negotiating the acquisition of the laptop with the MIT  He did not mention any specific deadline, however.

According to the president and founder of the MIT’s Media Lab, Nicholas Negroponte, "this is an educational project that is going to help to solve the problem of the digital division in the world". According to him, if the project becomes viable, it will also be offered to other poor countries.

The US$ 100 laptop, which can work on dynamo, battery or electricity, has the size of a book and a brilliant green color – to please the children and convey an environmental message.

The MIT has decided not to take orders for less than one million units and the machines have to be paid in advance. Negroponte believes that the first shipments of the new computers will start by the end of 2006 or beginning of 2007.

Negroponte highlighted that the product will not be sold in stores. The idea is to sell the Linux-based laptop only to those Education Ministries of countries committed to the policy of "One Computer for Child."

The president of the MIT’s Media Lab visited Brazil in July to present his project to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, but said he is not sure yet whether Brazil will buy the equipment.

According to him, Lula seemed very enthusiastic, but the ministers involved in the project negotiation left the government soon after the meeting in Brasí­lia.

"Doing business with governments is very difficult," commented Negroponte. "The high echelon shows lots of excitement, but the levels below are very bureaucratic".

Negroponte said that he was already contacted by the Brazilian industry to launch the laptop commercially, but that his goal is to work with the governments.

"Education is a public good. Turning the back on the governments would be a kind of penalty, a bad way of doing things", explained the president of the MIT’s Media Lab, adding that he will dedicate the rest of his life to the cause of  digital inclusion.

"I won’t do anything else but that, starting now," he guaranteed.

The MIT Laptop can do almost all the operations of a regular computer, but store a great volume of data. It uses free Linux software as its operating system and a wireless connection to access the Internet.

For those who have no electricity and cannot buy batteries there’s the crank (dynamo) option. One minute of cranking offers at least 10 minutes of connection for data reception, and it might offer as much as 40 minutes of operation. The MIT admits, however, that the crank is not satisfactory for sending data.



  • Show Comments (4)

  • Guest

    You have never travelled troughtout Brazil, have you? I deeply wish that these kids reach this so-called technological inclusion. But they are not even included in the society! In fact, they only exist during election campaings. Millions have no decent water or food. I am sure you already heard this speech but it is so true! HUGE step, in fact. Mr. Negroponte himself said “Education is a public good”. I totally agree. But families that have technology available can already afford to buy computers. So we just ignore the rest of them that can´t even dream to send their sons to schools? Isn´t it hypocrisy? This fuzz about technological inclusion covers up more severe problems. Kids stealing, kids looking for food in the trash, kids murdering…

  • Guest

    A small step – but is it honest?
    This is a step in the correct direction – the only concern is in regards to how realistic this project is. When I first heard of this I thought it was a great idea if it could be organized – it appears that the project is moving forward. The concept of trying to bring to every child the same tools and knowledge that everyone deserves is the right thing that must be done. My concern is with the terms associated with the program set up by MIT – 1 million unit order with up front payment – do the math – it is $100 million up front. Again I support the effort, I am just concerned with the large price tag for a project that should help every one. The concerning aspect of this is directly tied to the fact that with our political system, and lack of interest in the Brasilian population to control the politicians who were elected to office what is the likelihood of budgeting $100 million for 1 million computers? Unless our politicians create some morals, and start doing the job they were ELECTED to do, and until Brasilians wake up and understand what a true democracy is all about (it is not about voting for someone and letting them do what they want – it is about accountability and honesty) I find it hard to believe that any child in Brasil will see a $100 laptop in front of them. I hope to be proven wrong!

  • Guest

    This is HUGE step in the right direction. This is not just about education, its about inclusion. (and a kick in the shins of Microsoft too) I’m sorry, but the idea that these disadvantaged children “aren’t smart enough yet” to use a laptop is just one more example of the type of moronic, prejudiced mentality that has to change in Brazil for the country to progress to ful inclusion. What an insulting remark above. To use your weak analogy, how are these kids supposed to learn to drive if they don’t even have a car in the first place?? One of the main reasons for the lack of education in the country is the lack of tools and resources in the poorest areas!! all the better for them if we give them a “Ferrari” to learn with. Change your attitude. Bravo MIT, Linux, and the UN!

  • Guest

    We are not even able to offer basic education to our children and now we are going to give laptops to them? The kids aren´t capable to do simple Math! They cannot read simple sentences! And now they are going to use laptops in order to write “ctabem” instead of “vocÀª está bem”…Great!! We have to improve our education system and it does not mean buying laptops. Ok, one can say that the kids will use them as instruments to learn. However, we have the obligation to teach children how to READ and THINK BEFORE laptops…It would be the same thing having my mom driving a Ferrari. It can´t be any good…

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