Apple offers for free MacOSX for $100 laptops, MIT says “No, thanks”

You probably have heard of the MIT initiative One Laptop Per Child, a plan to develop a $100 laptop computer for distribution to millions of schoolchildren in developing countries.
Today I read from WallStreetJournal:
Steve Jobs, Apple Computer Inc.’s chief executive, offered to provide free copies of the company’s operating system, OS X, for the machine, according to Seymour Papert, a professor emeritus at MIT who is one of the initiative’s founders. “We declined because it’s not open source,” says Dr. Papert, noting the designers want an operating system that can be tinkered with.
Wow! Apple offers for free its fabolous operating system and the MIT has the strenght to refuse such an offer. Just think if this would have happened 5 years ago. MIT would probably have been so happy and thanking. But now GNU/Linux on the desktop is almost as usable as other operating systems, and it will be better in few years.
Of course MIT’s refusal makes a lot, a lot of sense and I totally support their decision, even if they should speak fo Free Software and not Open Source. Anyway, embracing a proprietary operating system would not give to schoolchildren in developing countries the freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0), the freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). [Access to the source code is a precondition for this.], the freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2), the freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). [Access to the source code is a precondition for this]. These are the freedom that Free Software gives you.
The $100 laptop is just a mean for achieving a goal, that is reducing poverty (that can be defined as inability to improve your current conditions). In this sense, only the ability to “play with” and study how your tool works, the ability to be an active player in the game and not just a passive swallower of information can produce empowerment. So being able to play with the tool (i.e. access to its source code) is mandatory. And the before mentioned freedoms as well.

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