Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher Versus OLPC

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Summary: A reader's article about Computer Aid International

SEE this registered charity, they donate 'free' computers to the third world. Except they charge a 'handling' fee of €£42.00 per PC plus shipping charge of €£72 per PC. That's €£19,705 for a 40ft container. This is surprising as they get the PCs for free and the refurbishment is done by people on the dole, who are paid €£10.00 a day expenses. It doesn't sound very free to me. According to this, "We charge a handling fee of €£42 plus shipping per computer to recover our costs."



So, on the day, the average worker would refurbish 5 to 10 PCs (yes), so that's €£204 worth of computers at €£10 a time for the worker. It's not as if this money is going on the workers. Most of it is going on the salaries of the 22 staff members, who never put in an appearance in the workshop.

Looking around the site, there are other important details. For example: "Computer Aid International is, however, a Microsoft Authorised Refurbisher, which allows us to install a Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP licensed operating system only at a cost of €£10.00 per machine."

“It shows up the 'charity' sector and what are they doing charging for Ubuntu.”Get a load of this, they charge €£10 a time for installing Ubuntu GNU/Linux: "We can also provide Ubuntu Linux and Open Office open source software (operating system and applications). If supplied on CD-ROM this is free. To pre-install on hard drives we charge €£10.00 per PC. Please ask if you require this service."

It shows up the 'charity' sector, so what are they doing charging for Ubuntu? I have just done some Googling and they do seem to be very lukewarm on anything that isn't Microsoft. See this report where CAI and ZDnet tested GNU/Linux on low-specifications machines and the ASUS comes out better than the OLPC. In their report [PDF] they say: "it was the slowest of all tested systems, and the operating system didn't include software for spreadsheet or video playing." But this is simply not true, as this article points out.

Our reader could recall them criticising the OLPC, as one of their officers said OLPC wasn't suitable for the third world etc. And indeed, in ZDNet it said: "The One Laptop Per Child, or OLPC, plan is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the history of the IT industry, according to Tony Roberts, chief executive and founder of U.K. charity Computer Aid International."

"It's like he got his material directly from Redmond," says our reader.

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