Sugar Labs and Free Software Foundation Celebrate Software Freedom Day, Announce Joint Efforts to Promote the Sugar Learning Platform for Children Worldwide

Nov 18 2009

CAMBRIDGE, MA, September 18, 2009 - Sugar Labs, nonprofit provider of the Sugar Learning Platform for children, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF), which promotes computer users’ right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs, have announced joint efforts to collaborate and promote Sugar on the occasion of Software Freedom Day, September 19th. The FSF will host an event in Boston featuring Sugar Labs Executive Director Walter Bender, FSF president Richard Stallman, and other speakers. Peter Brown, FSF’s executive director, said, “The Sugar Learning Platform is fast becoming an essential route to computer user freedom for children around the world. The international free software movement is getting behind Sugar, and we want to use Software Freedom Day as an opportunity to help draw community attention, developer resources, and external funders to the important work going on at Sugar Labs.”

The FSF has upgraded its hosting services support of Sugar Labs to keep pace with its growth. As part of the ongoing relationship, Bernardo Innocenti, a member of the Sugar Labs Oversight Board, is working at the FSF offices. Mr. Innocenti stated: “The FSF and Sugar Labs are pursuing distinct, but interdependent goals; Free (as in Freedom) Software is a fundamental part of globally accessible education, and good education enables critical thought, a pre-requisite for appreciating the value of Freedom.”

Sugar is a global project. Translated into 25 languages, it is used in classrooms in 40 countries by over 1 million children as part of the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) nonprofit program. Sugar’s simple interface, built-in collaboration, and automatic backup through each student’s Journal have been designed to interest young learners. The recently released Sugar on a Stick (SoaS) project brings Sugar to even more children, allowing young learners to keep a working copy of Sugar on a simple USB stick, ready to start up any PC or netbook with the child’s environment and data. Pilot projects in schools with Sugar on a Stick are underway in Boston, Berlin, and elsewhere. SoaS is free software available under the General Public License (GPL) and is available for download without charge

According to Walter Bender, “Sugar is running on over 99% of all of the OLPC- XO laptops around the world because governments prefer its quality, openness, built-in collaboration, and easy localization to indigenous languages. Teachers and students are exercising their freedom by modifying and improving Sugar and its Activities. With Sugar on a Stick, access to Sugar is even more widespread.”

For example, Uruguay has distributed a Sugar-equipped OLPC laptop to every student in the country. Alexandre Oliva of FSF’s sister organisation Free Software Foundation Latin America ( said, “I was amazed when I first saw Sugar in action in Peru two years ago; shortly thereafter, my daughter tasted Sugar and loved it. She’s going to elementary school next year, and I’m very happy she can now easily carry Sugar with her, and share it with her friends. Myself, I’m going to spread its freedom into as many schools as I can.” Karsten Gerloff, President of Free Software Foundation Europe (, added: “Education and Free Software are both all about sharing knowledge. Through projects like Sugar, young people around the world can discover the creativity that freedom makes possible. Together with the political backing thatFSFE’s Edu-Team and others are building, Sugar puts Free Software inits rightful place in education.”

Sugar Labs relies on the efforts of software developers who donate their skills to the project. Mr. Bender continued, “We are looking for developers with experience in GNU/Linux, Python and/or Gtk+ for contributing to the Sugar shell and educational Activities for children. We also need testers, experienced packagers, and educators willing to contribute their ideas for Sugar in the classroom.”

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