Sugar Defies OLPC Cutbacks

Jan 26, 2009

After the OLPC project announced it would cut financial support for Sugar, developers have taken the future of the learning platform into their own hands.

In January the One Laptop Per Child project had to layoff 30 members of staff due to financial difficulties. Among them were almost all of the team working on the OLPC dedicated Sugar desktop. MIT Professor and head of the project, Nicholas Negroponte, announced at the time that further development of Sugar would be left entirely in the hands of the community.

South African developer Morgan Collett, together with the Sugar Labs Marketing Team, has now posted a project status report on his blog. The project, he says, has now reached its third month of development, with almost no support from OLPC.

Good news is that all the full time developers are sticking with the project. Says Collett, "Sugar has not lost any of its full-time core developers as a consequence of OLPC's layoffs: All of the core team will stay around as unpaid volunteers while we're looking for new ways to finance their full-time contribution." Collett mentions 20 contributors who are helping with engineering resources and travel costs, tendency rising. The project is determined to realize the planned March release of the next version, Sucrose 0.84, considering this a yardstick of their new independence.

At the same time, Sugar is working to establish local labs and grassroots organizationsto help fill the gaps the OLPC has left behind.

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  • Sugar Labs

    In fact, Sugar Labs spun out from OLPC almost one year ago. Since then we have made significant progress, including a major release last fall and a new release on Sugar in March 09--stay tuned!! We've also worked with the upstream Linux distros to package Sugar as part of their standard distributions. And we have produced LiveUSB versions of Sugar--"Sugar on a Stick"--to make it easier for teachers and parents to try Sugar in their classrooms or at home. New Sugar activities are coming on-line almost daily. Regarding the impact of the OLPC layoffs on Sugar, in fact it is not at all as described by Mr. Negroponte. Only two of the 30+ people who were laid-off from OLPC were working on Sugar (for their day job)--this hardly qualifies as "most". We at Sugar Labs are saddened by the OLPC cutbacks, but as your article suggests, Sugar is thriving despite the hard times being experienced at OLPC.
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