The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project has confirmed that one million of its notebook computers for children in the developing world have been ordered. It plans to ship 2,500 test units this month.
The OLPC project, aimed to give children around the world the opportunity to learn how to use computers, is a joint effort between manufacturer Quanta , the MIT Media Laboratory , chip maker AMD and Linux software developer Red Hat .
Seven nations - Argentina, Brazil, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand and Uruguay - have already signed up for the project to provide notebook computers to its schoolchildren. The first 2,500 test units are being shipped this month, and Quanta said it could ship between 5 million and 10 million units this year.
However, some of the countries are worried that the low-cost notebook computers could end up in the hands of people they weren't intended for. As a result, OLPC computers will have a built-in 'kill switch' allowing them to be remotely deactivated should a computer be stolen and used without authorisation.
Ivan Krstic of the OLPC project wrote on the project's website : "The OLPC project has received very strong requests from certain countries considering joining the program to provide a powerful anti-theft service that would act as a theft deterrent against most thieves."
The built-in security device cannot be disabled, the project claims, even by a user with root access. Participating countries can provide identifying information such as a serial number to a given country's OLPC program oversight body, which will then disable the devices if necessary. This will make the user environment unable to function properly.
The notebook computers are currently priced at $130 (£67) but the aim is to cut the price to $100 (£51). The companies involved in the project believe this price is achievable sometime next year.