Please note - Ndiyo has now officially closed its doors, at least as a legal entity - but we've kept the site alive in case any of the information is useful to others.

Our thanks to all those who helped out and were involved in so many different ways! The Ndiyo legacy lives on in the ultra-thin-client work at its spin-off DisplayLink, at Plugable, at NoPC and elsewhere...

Ndiyo and the $100 laptop project

Widespread media interest in the so-called '$100 laptop' (OLPC) project has prompted many inquiries to Ndiyo about how the two projects are related. The answer is that while both are aimed at tackling aspects of the 'digital divide', they are based on radically different philosophies.

OLPC seeks to create a device which can be given to children by governments, much as schoolbooks are now distributed in many countries. OLPC sees mobility and personal ownership as key requirements. To the question "Why not a desktop computer, or—even better—a recycled desktop machine?", they reply:

Desktops are cheaper, but mobility is important, especially with regard to taking the computer home at night. Kids in the developing world need the newest technology, especially really rugged hardware and innovative software. Recent work with schools in Maine has shown the huge value of using a laptop across all of one's studies, as well as for play. Bringing the laptop home engages the family...

Finally, regarding recycled machines: if we estimate 100 million available used desktops, and each one requires only one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle, that is forty-five thousand work years. Thus, while we definitely encourage the recycling of used computers, it is not the solution for One Laptop per Child.

The Ndiyo Project is targetting the whole population, not just children. It is focussed round the idea that most organisations need networked workstations, but the conventional PC-based way of providing such facilities is needlessly expensive, wasteful and difficult to support. We agree with OLPC that recycling used computers is not a sustainable long-term solution to the Digital Divide -- which is why we have stimulated the development of an economical, sparse, thin-client solution which can nonetheless give a full-power high-quality computing experience to the users, wherever in the world they may be.

In a sense, you could say that the main difference between the Ndiyo and OLPC projects is that we have a more pragmatic perspective. It may well be that in the long run the OLPC vision will be realised; but in the meantime, there is an urgent need to make networked computing more affordable and sustainable -- and that is what we are trying to do.