Hugo Chavez Shopping: A Million Classmate Laptops for Venezuela

Sep 30, 2008

As the International Herald Tribune reports in an Associated Press news article, Venezuela has ordered a million Magellan laptops that are based on Intel's Classmate PC design.

Whether the blue and white laptops are intended only for Venezuelan children in the mission to "connect children to a promising future" is not yet certain. Venezuela maintains aid agreements with many other countries. The technical specifications for the laptop are on Intel's Classmate website.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez ordered the laptops in a bilateral deal with Portugal valued at more than $3 billion that also included delivering a million barrels of oil to Portugal. The exact cost to consumers of the laptop is not known, but is said to be a few hundred dollars each. Earlier the Portuguese government had provided 500,000 Classmate PCs to the country's school children through an education initiative. Thanks to government subsidies a PC cost a mere 50 Euro; the normal street price would be about 285 Euro, which is $412.

The laptops are manufactured in Portugal; whether they will be installed with Windows XP or Linux is yet to be determined. Chavez may lean toward Linux due to his U.S. relations, but in Portugal it will be the parents of school children who decide which platform to install. In the case of Linux, a commercial Portuguese distribution called Caixa Mágica (Magic Box) would be the choice.

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