Earlier this year, Portugal made a deal with Intel to produce 500,000 Classmate PCs under license based on Intel’s design. Now, Portugal has turned around and made its own deal with Venezuela that will see one million Linux-powered Classmate PCs for use in Venezuelan schools. Although terms of the deal were not given, the move is part of a broader package of agreements involving energy development, infrastructure, and housing valued about about $3 billion.
The laptops typically cost a few hundreds dollars apiece. Although the Intel Classmate PCs can run Linux or Windows XP, reports have the Venezuelan systems being set up to run a customized version of Linux. Venezuela has previously backed a government-sponsored project to developer low-cost Linux-based computers for the general public.
The size of the Venezuelan deal is notable in its own right, but also significant in comparison to the non-profit OLPC laptop project, which aimed to product $100 laptops for education in developing countries. The OLPC XO laptop wound up costing $188, and the organization has battled internal conflicts and combative relationships with industry players like Microsoft and Intel; it has also had trouble lining up orders, although it did recently secure an order to over a quarter million XO laptops from Peru.
Intel is currently working on a revised Classmate PC design based on research it has conducted among Classmate deployments in more than two dozen countries, which will reportedly feature a finger-friendly touchscreen tablet capability.
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