Notes from ManchLUG, 28-Sept-2010, maddog, Project Cauã

Eighteen people attended the second ManchLUG (wiki, twitter) meeting, held at “Wings Your Way” on Elm Street in Manchester. Early attendees to the meeting enjoyed good food, beverages and camaraderie.

It’s never easy to summarize a maddog presentation :). Maddog had a lot of interesting materials to cover, and provided a lot of depth and background to his main thesis. Briefly, Project Cauã is based in Brazil as the center of its first pilot and rollout, but intends to be worldwide. There’s a strong ethos of openness and transparency in hopes the project will be duplicated elsewhere. It is an effort to distribute computing power and internet connectivity to as many people as possible as cheaply as possibly, but using the power of capitalism and business to drive the project, rather than some completely free charitable model that would be trying to fight the entrenched interests. There seemed to be an emphasis on sustainability, both for the project and the world, and the principles of Open Software.

The infrastructure would consist of very-low-power (10-12 watts) mini-machines, a small fanless thin-client box with USB3 and gigabit ethernet connectivity, wired into large servers centralized in neighborhoods or apartment building basements. The machines would be manufactured as greenly as possible and built for long term service (6-10 years). Small businesses would be established and trained (cheaply over the internet and/or with DVDs) to service the machines. The thin clients would rent/lease for a target price of $6/month. To avoid vendor lockin or obsolescence, the thin client design would be open, designed by the University of São Paulo and distributed/licensed freely to the many SMT (Surface Mount Technology) assembly facilities available within Brazil (import duties of 100% on finished goods, versus a 6% surcharge on raw components, means that in-country assembly is economically feasible, driving local employment). The project intends to use the network to provide free metro-wide Wifi. Some vendors have expressed an interest in providing free internet band width in exchange for idle CPU power. There’s lots more to the project of course: finding the proper motivations to financial institutions to provide the seed money the many small startups will need, certifying and bonding the local computer experts, designing and integrating the hardware, software, networking, etc., but maddog only had a little over an hour to present. More can be learned at http://www.projectcaua.org and maddog promised he’d be further updating the site soon.

Thanks to maddog for the presentation, to Kenta Koga and Chip Marshall for coordinating the meeting, to Wings Your Way for the facilities and good food, and to all for attending and participating!

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