Andrew Donoughue’s piece about Ndiyo and the digital divide is now on the Web. The nice thing about it is that it sets our work in the wider context.
An alternative to both the refurbished PCs and the OLPC approach has been developed by two UK academics. Ndiyo, the Swahili word for “yes”, is a project that aims to allow multiple users access to the same PC. Rather than trying to push more bespoke devices on countries with meagre IT budgets, Ndiyo allows one PC to be shared by five to 10 individuals by turning it into a mini-server networked to a series of thin clients.
The brain-child of Quentin Stafford-Fraser, a former research scientist at AT&T Laboratories Cambridge, Ndiyo is based around the untapped ability of the Linux operating system (Ubuntu) to support numerous simultaneous users. Together with his partner, technical author and Open University professor John Naughton, Stafford-Fraser decided that the traditional idea of one machine per user was a model that just didn’t make economic or functional sense for the developing world. Instead, in the Ndiyo model, a Linux PC becomes a server to a series of “ultra-thin-clients” — called Nivos — which allow an extra display, keyboard and mouse to be connected to the computer via a standard network cable.
ZDNet UK caught up with Stafford-Fraser and Naughton recently to find out how their technology works and why it makes more sense than the strategies being developed by heavyweights such as Intel and OLPC…