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back to article 125,000 Ubuntu PCs to land in Pakistani students' laps

As the One Laptop Per Child initiative goes from strength to strength around the world, there are signs that Pakistan may be getting the message too, after the Punjab government began handing out 125,000 free Ubuntu-based laptops to college and university freshers. Chairman of the Punjab Information Technology Board, Umar Saif, …

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Anonymous Coward

No wonder

With all the foreign aide from the U.S. and the miniscule amount of aide from the UK in comparison, I'm surprised the number PCs isn't closer to a million.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No wonder

But first they have to build atomic bombs then whatever aid money is left over can go on laptops.

And still poverty is endemic in that country.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No wonder

The endemic poverty is important to maintain. Otherwise Pakistan will be able to put up more resistance when the USA invade in 10-15 years time (that seems to be the approximate horizon for the USA's nation building blowing up in its face).

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Re: No wonder

Poverty is also endemic in the US, but the suggestion that they spend money on welfare rather than on more efficient ways is offensive to your average merkin.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No wonder

Sorry. But it's

MINUSCULE

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No wonder

FYI. It can be spelled either way.

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I just wonder

Its great to see them using Linux

but

I just wonder how many will still have Linux installed within an hour of them being handed out.

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Re: I just wonder

You can be assured that someone from redmond is over there with other ideas and some more 'focused' development capital.

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FAIL

Re: I just wonder

Maybe, but if they pirate Win they will soon be sorry...

BUT, who are these people talking about laptops for primary kids, is Negroponte really saying that? It's asinine, primary kids learn much better with real physical tools (e.g. counting adding subtracting with beads/ beans) than with some flashy video/ game.

Once you get past primary, yes this would be much more useful...

But that requires good primary teachers (not just airdropping tablets and crossing fingers) and is, of course, MUCH harder to do.

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Re: I just wonder

First of all, if they have the intelligence to take Linux off of their computer, they would probably want to keep Linux on. Secondly, if they have the (big) bucks to afford a purchased copy of a Windows produce, they don't need a free computer period. Thirdly, Linux, in my opinion, is superior to Windows. Corporations know it.

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Going down

According to Wikipedia, OLPC managed to sell 21,000 XOs last year - 9,00 to Paraguay and 12,000 to Columbia. In what sense is that "going from strength to strength around the world"? Someone cut'n'paste a press release?

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Re: Going down

OLPC is a success maybe not as a product but as a concept and TFA is a really good example of this.

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Anonymous Coward

This could bite them in the arse

If the rulling muslim party want votes, then dishing out the ability to access the world wide web of information might well come back to haunt them, as youngsters then become open to discussion on a wide range of topics and finally get to conenct with all those who have left the muslim faith; enabling them to a greater view point that the one being pushed at them by their local society.

This could be one of the biggest blows to religion in the country yet.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This could bite them in the arse

Most of these people are at university, what makes you think, that they don't discuss "ideas" at university? You obviously aren't aware that a Muslim is required to investigate the world around him/her. Islam has been a driving force in science over the years.

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Re: This could bite them in the arse

"This could be one of the biggest blows to religion in the country yet."

Good.

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Re: This could bite them in the arse

It's the old guard mediaeval/feudal/misogynistic attitude that needs to be 'educated' away. That is more of a 'tradition' than a specifically Muslim problem and exists the world over not just in Muslim countries.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This could bite them in the arse

Pakistan still has the penalty for blasphemy. All their years of investigating the world around them and discussing in their controlled scholarly environments hasn't changed this so far; and I'd lay odds that this is because the information that gets to them gets coloured and spun on the way to them.

Access to discussion forums outside these comfort zones will expose them to raw argument and viewpoints that have not been so coloured.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This could bite them in the arse

But why is there such a lack of infrastructure in Muslim countries? Excluding those who have imported western technology with oil money.

Ijtihad is a suitable concept for examination, but there are so many ideas shut down in Muslim countries that it's hard to see it extolled or championed...

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Re: This could bite them in the arse

"Islam has been a driving force in science over the years."

Really? What new theories can be attributed to Allah?

I throw that one open to the other sky-daddy worshippers too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This could bite them in the arse

@M Gale - The Prophet instructed his followers to investigate creation and understand nature and how things work (I'm paraphrasing).

Alchemy (Chemistry to you or I)

Alkali

Arabic Numerals

Evolution type theories were known in 12c by Islamic scientists

Astronomy

Mathematics (Algebra)

In fact, any scientific theory, function or law which contains the prefix "Al"

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Re: This could bite them in the arse

Of course none of the science can be directly attributed to a sky wizard but a lot of the great scientists have had religion and felt it was important to them.

Galileo - imprisoned for heresy by the Catholic Church

Newton - Christian(ish)

Darwin - Christian, clergy

Columbus (not a scientist I know) - Christian

As to the Arab world, al-Khwārizmī brought us the number 0 (by the grace of which computers work) and algebra.

/not a god-botherer myself

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Stop

Re: This could bite them in the arse

The problem isn't so much religion as ignorance and our failure to love our enemies as Siddharta, Ghandi, Mohammed and Jesus all taught us to do. Europe was just as bad as parts of the middle east are now 4 or 5 centuries ago. Attempts to get rid of religions tend to create newer and worse religions - such as Stalin and Pol Pot's atheist deification of the proletariat which resulted in extermination of millions of intellectuals, the fascist worship of state and race in the early 20th century which exterminated non-favoured peoples, or the shopping therapy consumerist fetish which started trashing the planet and our minds in the late 20th century and hasn't quite finished yet.

That much said, I'm all in agreement with the exposing and disinfection of the rottenness of ignorance and hatred through the open discussion and debate which the Internet opens up.

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Re: This could bite them in the arse

If you are interested in this, you should read about the Islamic golden age, roughly 750 AD - 1250 AD, during which Islamic scientists where the greatest in the world in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, ophthalmology and physics, discovering things which would only later be 'discovered' by western scientists.

The most important thing that Islam gave us was the scientific method.

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Re: This could bite them in the arse

What Skrrp said.

Basically, religion has done nothing, at all, to further the field of science. Some religious people have been involved in the scientific process - I do believe Newton was also an alchemist who fervently believed that you could turn base metals into gold, and had an interest in the occult to go along with it - but the religious process of "I have faith therefore it is true" has accomplished nothing asides maybe some periodic repression and warfare.

Notice how Newton's theories on alchemy aren't discussed by anybody except as an academic exercise? Because they are scientifically unsound, a bit like a book that tells you to lock your women up, or another one that bans wearing jeans for some reason.

I will reiterate, religion has done nothing to advance science, has held it back in a few places, and religious texts have zero predictive value.

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@M Gale

Scientific enquiry in the modern sense was more likely to arise from monotheistic belief in a universe governed by God through laws of nature, than from polytheistic or atheistic belief in an essentially chaotic and capricious universe. The history of Islamic and western science seems to support this thesis. There just doesn't seem to be that much point trying to discover laws of nature unless you start out by believing nature to be governed by laws. By the time of the enlightenment, the existence of laws of nature had started to appear irrefutable, and scientists then started believing many different and incompatible things apart from agreeing on the existence of natural laws.

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Re: @M Gale

"Scientific enquiry in the modern sense was more likely to arise from monotheistic belief in a universe governed by God through laws of nature, than from polytheistic or atheistic belief in an essentially chaotic and capricious universe."

A bit like the Greeks, who were quite advanced for their time despite having an entire pantheon of gods. Or maybe the Romans, who adopted monotheism at about the same time their entire civilisation went kaput? The Egyptians performed some minor miracles with a sound knowledge of building materials and an almost endless supply of cheap, disposable labour. Oh, they were pretty polytheist, too, what with horus, ra, and set and all the rest.

The key thing here is that religion served to concentrate wealth and control. Once that had happened, one person with a brain can control an army, if they believe said person has some kind of godliness in them. It's okay to waste 100,000 people on a bloody big triangular coffin if your local collection of sky-fairies say it's what you're supposed to do.

I will reiterate: Religion has not served to advance science one iota.

...and what's this about "belief in a chaotic and capricious universe" being an "atheist" belief?

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Linux

Re: This could bite them in the arse

That's all ancient history.

That is also the secular side of ancient Islamic empires.

...and "Arabic" numerals are Indian numerals.

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Linux

Re: This could bite them in the arse

Sounds a lot like the Romans during the middle ages. There was some glory day some point in the past but it's all moot because the religious zealots took over and anyone that gets out of line gets burned at the stake.

Islam doesn't give us the scientific method any more than the Catholic church gave us the Renaissance.

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math history

With all due respect to the Arabic and Persian mathematicians. The (Hindu-)Arabic numerals (as well as the concept of zero) were invented by the Hindu (or/and Buddhist) mathematicians of India. Hence they are Hindu-. The Muslim mathematicians were smart to see the power of it, as was Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci)

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Anonymous Coward

Open source zero cost?

In what way is FOSS zero cost? No software is zero cost, especially if you've got 120k laptops to support. It may be free at the point of installation, but it's certainly not free to maintain as people's time and the distribution channels cost. Also if you have support for these machines, which it's entirely likely, they will be shelling out for an annual support subscription, which if RHEL where I work is anything to go by, is staggeringly expensive.

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Re: Open source zero cost?

You are the FUD and I claim my prize.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open source zero cost?

No, not FUD, as I suggested I use FOSS at work, I also use it at home, but I'm being realistic about these things. FOSS costs to run, maintain and operate, the software may be free, but the service isn't and that's even if you don't pay for support. To suggest that FOSS is zero cost - as the quote in the article - is idiotic and misleading.

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Re: Open source zero cost?

I don't know why you keep getting downvoted. The "free" refers to "freedom", not cost.

Yes, one can download F/OSS software for no charge and use it without charge and this is generally fine for home/enthusiast use. But in the workplace you need all the same stuff as you need for proprietary code. You need to hire (or contract) support, hire (or contract) customisation, hire (or contract)....

That's nothing against F/OSS at all - it's just a fact of life and people can argue until their blue in the face about which is "better" in terms to TCO. And often do!

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Re: Open source zero cost?

Oh, and of course the F/OSS software has to be written, and there is always a cost in that; either monetary in the form of sponsorship/salary or in volunteers' time. Then there is the hosting of the binaries and source, that has a monetary cost.

Again Free != Zero cost. Donate to your projects, people.

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Re: Open source zero cost?

I called FUD because you post anonymously and suggest that going F/OSS is going to cost a lot of money by necessity. That is the very definition of spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt.

I agree that there are costs involved but it won't necessarily call for a full fat RH contract.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open source zero cost?

No, Magnus, you called FUD because you saw a post that criticised FOSS and didn't bother to read it properly, now you're backtracking and that's the best you can come up with.

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Re: Open source zero cost?

No, Anonymous Coward, I read it and called it as I saw fit and told you my reasoning. Don't like it? Then say why rather than just impugning my character.

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Re: Open source zero cost?

Maybe you didn't bother [i] write [/i] it properly ?

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Re: Open source zero cost?

The FUD is the implied suggestion that non-free/proprietary systems need less support than free software systems. As a long-term Linux user in my business who has also seen friends and family use both, I'd have to say that's just not true in my experience.

Those using Windows tend to need regular hand-holding when viruses or other malware strike and when things they have blindly installed mess up their systems. The free software users in contrast tend to have none of these issues. Stuff just works.

Win, Mac and Linux users are just as likely to need help with specific applications or functions such as burning a CD/DVD or managing email.

Those free software users I'm talking about range from the very young to the elderly and from those with zero technical knowledge to those who are quite proficient.

That's why the suggestions that free software is somehow less free because users need support is just misdirection.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Open source zero cost? @ Neil Lewis

"The FUD is the implied suggestion that non-free/proprietary systems need less support than free software systems."

Er - no. You've inferred it. Nobody has implied that here at all. Only that free software isn't. Chant the old "Free as in freedom, not beer" mantra all you want, but it's pretty certain that's not what the recipients of these PCs are thinking. Or care about, frankly. Most likely applies to most large-scale (i.e. not saddo zealots,) uptake too. And the "Stuff just works" argument is also untrue - it's easy enough to find examples on various Linux support forums. No doubt you''ll have an explanation why that's acceptable for open source, though. Won't change the fact you're lying.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Stuff just works"

That's one that I'm sure I've heard another collection of people banding about, and it always comes back to bite you sooner or later.

May I refer the OP to the latest upgrade to Ubuntu which mangles the boot-loader beyond recognition as the order of the day.

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Inaccurracies...

@Michelle/BigYin

Firstly, you're basing your bigoted remarks on a major factual error in this article. The "ruling party" in Pak is the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). I don't where the author got PML from, especially as he doesn't specify if that refers to PML-N or PML-Q or PML-F.

Secondly, don't let the "Muslim League" term in their title fool you, these parties (along with the PPP) are all officially secular - based (loosely) on the principles of founder MA Jinnah. But more importantly, ideology aside, they are some of the most corrupt politicians the world over. Just have a quick read into the shady dealings of Mr. Zadari (and his late wife Bhutto), the money stolen from the country safely locked away in their Swiss accounts, the role in the murder of her own brothers, turning a blind eye while the US drone bombs civilians week in week out. Then there's Nawaz's role in sugar dealings.....I could go on forever.

And as for role of religion in Pakistani society that is up to the people, it is their democratic right to decide. Sadly, no civilian government has been able to see out a single term in office. Although most of them got "elected" via massive rigging and bribery.

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Re: Inaccurracies...

There was a reason I quoted what I did; less religion is always good - regardless of the faith or country.

People are, of course, free to decide whatever they want. But just because they decide to believe a thing does not make it true. Or are you one of these people who believes in belief?

"Why no, I don't think there is a teapot orbiting between Earth and Mars; but I respect your right to believe it."

And next time - kindly keep the insults to yourself.

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Let's ditch the stereotype

I also don't like the general tone that Pak is a dustbowl of place where the internet and PCs are a big novelty. It could not be further from the truth. Many people (esp. the younger generation) are tech savvy and will have access to computers/internet. There are many internet cafes in Lahore, Karachi. And you'd really struggle to find someone who doesn't have a mobile phone - many of which will be internet capable.

Besides, the people in question in this article - university/college freshers - will certainly already be regular users of computers/internet.

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Re: Let's ditch the stereotype

Yes. I was wondering who these where aimed at. I thought perhaps more rural areas but if there is internet access there will probably already be computers if there isn't then these won't be much use.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Let's ditch the stereotype

I used to maintain a bunch of backup servers in Pakistan, remotely from London.

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Excuse me, but if these are XOs . . .

. . . then they're based on Fedora, not Ubuntu. If they're not XOs, then maybe they're Ubuntu-based laptops that are "like" XOs maybe? The reporter needs to do a better job being clear about this in this story.

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