Sugar Labs/Announcing Sugar Labs

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New foundation focused on taking the Sugar user interface to the next level of usability and utility

Cambridge, Mass., May 14, 2008 – Sugar Labs is being established to further extend the Sugar “learn learning” software platform that was originally developed for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) XO laptop. Sugar is the core of the XO laptop's human-computer interface; it provides a fun, easy to use, social experience that promotes sharing and learning. Sugar Labs will focus on providing a software ecosystem that enhances the learning on the XO laptop and laptops built and distributed by other laptop companies, such as the ASUS EEE. Independence from OLPC means it will be easier to work with other vendors and consequently reach more children.

Sugar Labs will take a proven learning concept to the next level of refinement, stability and unity. It will be a unifying catalyst for free and open source learning systems across multiple distribution and hardware platforms and will provide a support structure for a community of developers concerned with learning and support for the learners themselves. The Sugar platform has already been bundled with the most recent release of the Ubuntu and Fedora GNU/Linux distributions.

Walter Bender, former president of software and content at OLPC, is helping to launch Sugar Labs, working closely with the developers and community members from around the world who have played the lead roles in the development of the Sugar UI. Prior to OLPC, Bender was executive director and a founding member of the Media Lab at MIT. He has participated in much of the pioneering research in the field of electronic publishing and personalized, interactive multimedia.

In order to provide a rich learning experience to as many of the world’s children as possible, it is critical to not just provide computers to children, but to ensure that the software that runs on the computers maximizes the potential for engaging in activities that promote learning: exploration, expression, and collaboration. By being independent of any specific hardware platform and by remaining dedicated to the principles of free and open source software, Sugar Labs ensures that others can develop diverse interfaces and applications for governments and schools to choose from. An independent Sugar Labs ensures that the community can continue the development of a highly innovative interface that is already engaging children in learning in more than two-dozen countries worldwide.

“This is a very exciting time in the development of software for children’s education,” said Walter Bender. “In the first generation of the Sugar UI, the open source community has demonstrated an exceptional ability to create a platform that enables children to explore the world, share their discoveries and express themselves. As a separate foundation, we will be able to advance Sugar’s development even futher and make it available on multiple distribution and hardware platforms.”

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