UN to buy 500,000 OLPC laptops for Palestinian children

The laptops will run Sugar, not Windows, marking a return to OLPC's roots

The One Laptop Per Child Project delivered 2,100 laptops to a United Nations project in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the largest deployment so far in a program that aims to give half a million Palestinian children access to the computers over the next three years.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) teaches 500,000 children in the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. OLPC has already delivered 1,500 of its XO laptops to schools in Ramallah on the West Bank.

The computers run the open-source Sugar software suite, marking a return to OLPC's roots after a flirtation with running Windows XP on its emblematic green-and-white XO laptops.

Sugar is now developed by a separate organization, Sugar Labs, which also offers versions of its Activities software for Windows, or on a bootable USB stick running on top of a Linux kernel.

Sugar Labs said that in addition to the learning activities its software already provides, existing UNRWA learning content will also be adapted. UNRWA has already begun training teachers on the new machines, it said.

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