Simputer (pictured) is a very low-cost computer built around a
design licensed under terms similar to that of the GPL. The intent
behind Simputer is to provide low-cost (<$200) machines to
people living in rural India. The interview here is with various
members of the Simputer team, and they discuss the reasoning behind
the licensing scheme they chose, the design decisions they made,
Linux handheld afficionados will be interested to note that the
team gives a lot of credit to the work being done at handhelds.org, where Linux has been
ported to devices like the Compaq iPaq.
"We hope government and large multilateral organizations will
use the Simputer as a platform for various IT initiatives,
indirectly making it affordable for poor communities to get access
"We have recognized that even $200 could be too high and such
products may need to be subsidized. However, we have added a
SmartCard as a prime method of enabling the 'sharing' of such
devices. Rural communities could own several devices and hire these
out for usage to individuals based on the ownership of a SmartCard.
Each user's Smart Card would contain the minimum 'personalization'
information required to log into a Community Server which would
maintain personalized data about the user. You can treat this as
some sort of 'roaming profile' information maintained in a smart
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