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OLPC Lessons Not Learned: Imposing Microsoft Windows on Young Students Using Embrace, Extend and Extinguish of Raspberry Pi

Summary: Raspberry Pi offers help or extends an olive branch to Microsoft despite the long-known pattern of Embrace, Extend and Extinguish (EEE)

Raspberry Pi is an exciting British project that resembles OLPC in many ways. It targets young people (albeit not exclusively) and it is very affordable. Coupled with the UK-based ARM it enables students to learn and build real computers as opposed to memorisation of menu items in proprietary software or purchasing of 'i' devices which are so rigid that they are virtually useless for education. Many people here in Britain purchase Raspberry Pi in order to improve their technical skills, to experiment, to learn. These values are almost antithetical to proprietary software. Moreover, proprietary software tends to be expensive (especially in the long term), so it is too prohibitive for public sectors. Unless the goal of the public sector, especially education, is to create customers for corporate clients, it makes absolutely no sense to spread Windows, Office, etc. That's why OLPC antagonised both Apple and Microsoft (offers of 'gratis' operating systems) until it gave up, removed these defenses, and died quickly thereafter (downward spiral and mass resignations).



Raspberry Pi should be careful not to repeat OLPC's mistakes by associating in any way with Microsoft. It follows a similar and highly reminiscent direction right now, choosing a disturbing mode of operation that neglects core values and goals of the project. Raspberry Pi compromises where it oughtn't and Eben Upton wastes time speaking with Microsoft right now, repeating the mistakes of OLPC as if OLPC never happened.

Most of the news [1-12] has been about the latest hardware from Raspberry Pi, but some sites play along with the Microsoft angle [13,14] (some look more like Microsoft press releases). What's with all this Vista 10 propaganda in relation to Raspberry Pi? First, Vista 10 is not out; second, it's hype; third, it lacks hardware support. Raspberry Pi is not strong enough for a bloated system from Microsoft; the same happened with OLPC and it wasted effort/focus of the project. OLPC and Raspberry Pi were supposed to be about education, programming/hacking etc. Clearly enough, and few can refute this, the proprietary spyware from Microsoft is not compatible.

Linux Veda wrote an article in response, starting with focus on the hardware. To quote: "Raspberry Pi needs no introduction. It’s a credit card size computer which can do a lot of things that your quad core desktop would do. The device is extremely popular among enthusiasts and developers. And the foundation that develops the device has announced the version 2 of the devices – Raspberry Pi 2."

The article also says that Raspberry Pi "had been working with Microsoft for the last six months". Embrace, Extend and Extinguish in action. It makes no sense unless Microsoft paid money for this distortion of the project. We would like to know how much money flow came from Microsoft and proxies like "Microsoft Open Technologies" to the Foundation (Raspberry Pi) because given the effort that went into Windows, it is possible that there were also monetary arrangements of some kind. We need transparency here.

Based on the reactions we see in social networks right now, Raspberry Pi faces a real risk as it may alienate the community and distract from important efforts that focus on education, not indoctrination for Microsoft's profit and lock-in.

That Cyanogen is becoming a Microsoft tool is not shocking because Cyanogen has always been Free software-apathetic if not Free software-hostile. But we expected better from Raspberry Pi. 20+ years of dead companies due to "deals" and "partnerships" with Microsoft are apparently no strong and compelling enough a warning sign to Raspberry Pi. This is the time for Microsoft to dust off the "how we killed OLPC" files and pick them off the shelves. Raspberry Pi should have known better, having witnessed what Microsoft did to Nokia in recent years.

Gordon Fletcher from the University of Salford (just a couple of miles from our house) cited Techrights earlier today, writing that "Microsoft’s embrace of open source is driven by commercial practicality not principle". To give some background: "Raymond’s “cathedral” is a thinly veiled reference to Microsoft’s absolute commitment to proprietary software development – a technocratic priesthood that kept the secrets within the temple. In 1999 a closed, proprietary approach was seen as the primary – if not the only way – to profit from software. This software business model followed the lead of computer hardware manufacturers, who would strive to “lock in” buyers to the firm’s ecosystem of products – compatible with each other but more often than not incompatible with those of other manufacturers."

He ends by relating this to the Cyanogen move: "Open-source activists are correct to wonder whether Microsoft has more of the same planned: most of its current open-source manoeuvres such as investing in Cyanogen follow the same approach of previous acquisitions. The key difference is that software developed in the bazaar has developers and users who are passionate about the project. For them open-source software is not just a commodity to be bought and sold; whether there is any place for the cathedral in the bazaar is yet to be seen."

As we wrote today and yesterday, this is not about embracing FOSS but about attacking Google with proprietary software (e.g. Office on top of Android).

Related/contextual items from the news:


  1. Raspberry Pi 2 Released with Six Times the Power, Same $35 Price
    Raspberry Pi 2 is a new mini PC from the Raspberry Pi Foundation that follows in the footsteps on the previous devices, which has managed to take the world by storm.


  2. The Raspberry Pi 2 Makes A Big Difference Even For Web Browsing


  3. Raspberry Pi gets quad-core SoC, keeps $35 price
    The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B moves up to a 900MHz, quad-core Cortex-A7 CPU with 1GB RAM, and offers backward compatibility and the same $35 price.

    The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a much faster new version of the world’s leading community-backed, hacker-friendly Linux SBC. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B moves from Broadcom’s 700MHz, ARM11 based Broadcom BCM2835 system-on-chip to a new quad-core Broadcom BCM2836 SoC clocked at 900MHz, and doubles RAM to 1GB.


  4. Raspberry Pi 2 review – not all the same
    We’ll be honest, when the Raspberry Pi 2 hit our desk in mid- January we were very excited to crack it open and try it out. From what we had been told this was basically the Raspberry Pi everyone had ever wanted, at least in terms of power. It was a bit of a have-your-cake-and-eat-it moment though, as we hooked up the board that was essentially a Model B+ and began using a very familiar Raspbian layout.


  5. Raspberry Pi 2 Goes On Sale, Includes A Quad-Core ARMv7 CPU
    The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced "Raspberry Pi 2" today, a new powerful Pi which has the same form-factor and price ($35) as the old Model B+.


  6. Turbocharged Raspberry Pi 2 unleashed: Global geekgasm likely


  7. Raspberry Pi 2 Launches With Quad-Core ARM SoC


  8. Video: Raspberry Pi 2 Hands-On


  9. Raspberry Pi robot and hobby kit robot guide part 2


  10. Snappy Ubuntu Core Available For New Raspberry Pi 2 Mini PC
    With the launch of the new Raspberry Pi 2 today now equipped with a quad-core processor Microsoft has already announced that it will be making a version of its Windows 10 operating system available for free to the maker community.


  11. Raspberry Pi 2 arrives with quad-core CPU, 1GB RAM, same $35 price
    Three years after the launch of the first Raspberry Pi, second generation hardware will go on sale today for the same $35 price while offering a lot more power.


  12. New Raspberry Pi Has Quad-Core CPU, 1GB RAM
    Raspberry Pi was originally meant as a small, credit card-sized PC that students could use at school to learn device programming and engineering.


  13. Raspberry Pi 2 can run Windows 10, Ubuntu Core (and more)


  14. Raspberry Pi 2 launch: Six times faster with Windows 10 and Ubuntu support
    A major update to the credit card sized Raspberry Pi board is introduced, with a boost to the CPU and memory expected to help it run as a general-purpose PC.




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