On the XO Laptop


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One of the most interesting properties of the new XO Laptop is that its existence makes you see things differently.

For example, consider the following products:

  • iPod
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • XO Laptop

Yes, I know Android is a software stack and not a complete product, but it does make for an interesting comparison.

The iPod and iPhone are completely proprietary, in both hardware and software.

Two use Linux: Android and XO.

Android and XO differ in that Android is based on Java while XO uses Python. I’m not sure how much space Android will take, though I do know the XO can run using 256MB of DRAM and a 1GB disk, only 300MB of which is needed for Linux and associated applications.

Suppose you are lean and mean and want to compete with one of the above over the course of the next five years. Where do you start?

The iPod and iPhone are the most vulnerable. Apple’s reliance on both proprietary hardware and software means they must not only be truly innovative, but must also execute properly at every step of the way.

Re Android and the XO, I would place my bet on the XO. Java? For a phone? May work now, but I would venture in the long run leaner, meaner and less resource-hungry dynamic languages will displace Java. Sun had a chance, but blew it. The long-term prospects for Java are grim.

The prospects for the XO and products based on it are much more promising. Use stripped-down Linux for the core, with a high-level language to provide the application stack on top. Clever caching and other programming tricks can do a lot to make a high-level language perform almost as well as a lower-level language, and using high-level can let you bring products to market much sooner — the higher the language level the mucher the sooner.


Written by daveshields

January 3, 2008 at 5:35 am

Posted in xo-laptop

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