Home > Hardware, Linux, Ubuntu > Keepod Unite Aims to Bring Computer Access to Africa with $7 USB Sticks and Refurbished Laptops (Crowdfunding)

Keepod Unite Aims to Bring Computer Access to Africa with $7 USB Sticks and Refurbished Laptops (Crowdfunding)

February 11th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Raspberry Pi foundation has done a great job to bring to market $25 and $35 computers for kids to learn programming, but they have many other uses including hardware “hacking” and bringing low cost computers to developing countries. Keepod and NGO LiveInSlums have thought of an apparently more cost effective way to bring computing access to people living in slums in Nairobi, Kenya, by providing USB sticks (about $7) to boot refurbished laptops. This is absolutely NOT a $7 PC as a few other websites have mentioned.

Keepod_UniteThe goal is to facilitate NGO communication, the spread of knowledge and economic development in a way that’s personal and secure. The USB flash drives will belong to one person, and contains a Linux based operating systems with all files saved in the stick, and no modifications on the host computer which does not even need an hard drive to work, and if it has one, it would probably be removed or disconnected to save energy. The refurbished laptops will be shared by several people. This bring costs down, reduces the risk of theft, and makes the setup more resilient to computer outage as the USB stick that just boot any other computer, and the users won’t lose their personal files.

The USB stick is flashed with an operating systems similar to Debian, Ubuntu or Mint Live CD image, but the company claims to have put lots of development effort into security, drivers & compatibility, performance, file system reliability, system foot-print, etc… The device is preloaded with applications such as Google Chrome,¬†Thunderbird, Skype, LibreOffice, VLC, FileZilla, Steam, XMBC, Pixlr, Pidgin… The refurbished laptop or computer needs to features an x86 processor (32- or 64-bit), 1GB RAM, a graphics card supporting 1024√ó768 resolution, and a USB 2.0 host port.

They are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to gather funds ($38,000) to source 1,500 Keepod Unite USB sticks, and 50 refurbished laptop for the Mathare slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Provided they reach their goals, the total cost per user would be around $25, which should be much lower than alternative solutions. Pledges start at $1 to support the project, $90 will get you one Keepod Unite, and send 5 others to Africa, and $12,00 will get you 5 units, and provide 100 to the project. Others pledge are also available, and you could even fly to Nairobu with the team if you wish.

You can follow the project on Keepod.com.

Thanks to CSilie for the tip

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  1. February 11th, 2014 at 11:23 | #1

    Looks good

  2. onebir
    February 11th, 2014 at 14:20 | #2

    Addresses a failing of the Raspberry Pi in developing countries – access to a suitable display.

  3. JotaMG
    February 11th, 2014 at 20:56 | #3

    Please note that this is no news.
    Barry Kauler, the creator of Puppy Linux has had this vision for many years, and Puppy has been optimized to run and save data in USB sticks.
    Barry now has gone a step further with Quirky, the first (I’m aware of) Linux distro designed to install to a USB pen or SD card that uses f2fs as the base filesystem.

    And all this cost no money!!!

  4. onebir
    February 12th, 2014 at 01:31 | #4

    @JotaMG The article does mention “an operating systems similar to Debian, Ubuntu or Mint Live CD image [eg with an optional area for persistent data storage], but the company claims to have put lots of development effort into security, drivers & compatibility, performance, file system reliability, system foot-print, etc”…

  5. JotaMG
    February 12th, 2014 at 19:05 | #5

    Yes, I know how to read English! ;-)
    And your point is?

    What I mean is that there is no need to crowd-funding that idea, BK and others have being doing that for many years now.
    Puppy Linux is very polished by now, and works very well out of the box.
    And, if you look around you see that there are many ONG’s in Africa and Asia that for years have been using Puppy Linux on USB sticks together with refurbished old hardware.
    And they did not need $38,000 to do that!
    Can you see my point?

  6. onebir
    February 12th, 2014 at 19:35 | #6

    @JotaMG You didn’t mention about the existing NGO use of Puppy Linux… OK, Keepod doesn’t seem to have a particularly unique ‘selling proposition’…

  7. February 12th, 2014 at 19:46 | #7

    @JotaMG
    I did not know Puppy, and Quirky, had the same features as the OS used in their solution.

    Concerning the Indiegogo campaign I think that’s OK. An 8GB USB stick is about $7-$8 (although they’d probably get big discount in quantities), and they also need to get the 50 refurbished laptops, send the devices to Kenya, and help with the setup. So $25 per user to setup everything seems reasonable to me.

    I’m not sure it would be much cheaper with Puppy. Keepod and the NGO are just using an alternative way to get “donations” to pursue their goal. Having said that, I’m assuming Keepod is getting some profit too, as they are not a non-profit organization.

  8. mary
    February 13th, 2014 at 12:18 | #8

    sounds like sex tourist looking for someone to pay a free trip for them. only about oh 10 years too late.
    internet cafes abound at prices even street urchins can afford. mobile phones anyone?
    Mathare slums wasnt that where the “freedom terrorist from Somalia stayed before they took down that upmarket mall a while back!?
    yeah you guessed it i have these NGO types. scourge of the planet.

  9. onebir
    February 13th, 2014 at 14:52 | #9

    @mary Wow, thought I was cynical about NGOs!

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