Not the OLPC: Sustainable computing for the masses
Dukker is the chairman and chief executive of NComputing, a company headquartered in Redwood, California, that is using technology invented by German Klaus Maier and South Korean Young Song to provide cheap seats for those who want to use computers.
Both Maier and Song remain with NComputing, the former as chief technology officer and the latter as chief operating officer.
NComputing has developed its own virtualisation software that runs on either a Windows or GNU/Linux host PC; to this host, users connect through a proprietary access device. Depending on the device used and the specs of the host, each host can either provide seven seats (six children plus the host - the distance at which these are located is limited) or in a second case 20 to 30 users can be accommodated and there is no limitation on distance.
In the first instance, what the company calls the X-series, the connection to the host is through a PCI card; given that two PCI slots are free on today's PCs, this limits the number of users to six, with each card accommodating three. In the second instance, the connection is through ethernet and is called the L-series.
Dukker says the cost per seat for the X-series is $US70 while the L-Series per seat cost is $US150. In the roughly five years since NComputing was set up, Dukker says half a million systems have been deployed by 15,000 organisations. Computing costs are said to have decreased by as much as 70 per cent and electricity consumption by 90 per cent. The costs do not include the host systems or monitors for the users.
Dukker says about 40 per cent of NComputing's customers have chosen Linux (the company uses Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora or SuSE) and the remainder have gone with Windows on the host. He is careful to specify that he has no religion when it comes to the operating system - it is entirely the buyer's choice. (Of course, if he were not offering the GNU/Linux option, then he wouldn't have got a run here).
There is a three-year warranty on hardware and software and this is entrusted to a local supplier in the country where the purchase is made - so far half of NComputing's sales have been outside the US, with Brazil being its second largest market.
But Dukker has not been in the news only because of NComputing; to some extent he has gained a profile because of his criticism of the One Laptop Per Child project, the effort led by MIT's Nicholas Negroponte which has the goal of developing a low-cost laptop to revolutionise how the world's children are educated.
(It is important to point out here that NComputing did not target the educational arena when it was formed - the aim was to deliver cheap computing to anyone who was willing to pay what the NComputing solution cost. But some of its larger customers have been in the education sector - for example, the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia bought 180,000 seats for its entire school system.)
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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.