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.
The 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 1024×768 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
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.